Summer Fest: Virtual Herb Garden

by Jennifer Iannolo

Given that we like to run amok with herbs, I’m a little giddy about this week’s Summer Fest topic. If you’ve been hanging around here a while, you know we love to get lost in the scents and flavors of fresh herbs, myself in particular, as I can’t seem to keep an herb plant alive. It fosters a constant state of longing.

One of the hidden gems of the Gilded Fork, which will be given much more prominence in our upcoming site redesign, is our set of test kitchen dossiers. We try to give you a quick-yet-substantial overview of the ingredient in question, its origins and etymology, flavor profiles, uses in the kitchen, and recipes we’ve come up with over the years. There are a whole lot of them on our Ingredients page if you want to take a peek. I’ll wait.

For this week’s particular theme, we’ve created a virtual herb garden for you. (Don’t worry, these are safe from my black thumb.) We encourage you to sniff, chiffonade, infuse, finely chop and nibble your way to ecstasy with these herbaceous delights. Then you can start to build flavor combinations like the ones in our featured recipes this week, which are two of the most popular on our site. Oh my, yes.

Featured recipes:

Lavender Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze
Rosemary & Honey-Roasted Pears

Featured dossiers:

Fabulous Fennel
Cilantro: Herb with an Attitude
Sweet Blooming Lavender
Lemongrass: Perfumed Allure
Rosemary: The Scent of Inspiration
Sensually Satisfying Sage
Tarragon: The Sweet Taste of Spring
Basil Primer

Here’s what our other Summer Fest cohorts are doing this week with herbs, as well as with beans and other greens. You can also follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #summerfood.

Margaret Roach: Away to Garden
Storing a year of herbs & one-pot Farinata: a polenta dish with greens

Michelle Buffardi: Cooking Channel’s Devour/The Blog (Scripps)
The Best Bean Salads
A French Take on Greens, Beans and Herbs

Alison Sickelka: Food2 blog (Scripps)
Leftover Herb Solution (Pesto!)

FN Dish: Food Network
The “Other” Summer Greens

Healthy Eats: Food Network
Top 6 Herbs

Cate O’Malley:
Fresh Green Bean Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Paige Smith Orloff: The Sister Project
Aloha, Pesto

Diane and Todd: White on Rice Couple
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Kelly Senyei: Just a Taste
Fresh Herb Ricotta

Caroline Wright: The Wright Recipes
Wax and Butter Bean Herbed Salad

Caron Golden: San Diego Foodstuff
Kale & Feta Empanadas and Roasted Romano Beans

Tigress in a Jam
Preserving–book giveaway, and ways to put up greens, beans, herbs

Alana Chernila: Eating from the Ground Up
Shirred eggs with fresh herbs: the affinity between eggs and herbs

Judy: Divina Cucina
Tuscan Butcher’s Blend of Herbs

Shauna Ahern: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
What to do with fava beans

Tara: Tea & Cookies
Clean Out the Fridge Summer Frittata

Nicole: Pinch My Salt
Green Beans with Balsamic Browned Butter

Food Network UK
On the edge with beans and greens

Each Wednesday for the rest of the summer (and probably longer), a group of blogging friends including those above will swap our recipes and tips about the following harvest-fresh ingredients. Here’s the schedule:

7/28: Cukes ‘n Zukes
8/4: Corn
8/11: Herbs, Greens and Beans
8/18: Stone Fruit
8/25 Tomatoes

We each post something and then link to one another, so that you can travel around the combined effort, gathering the goodies. Sharing makes the experience even better, so if you have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes, you can do either of the following:

  • Leave a comment on participating blogs with a link to your recipe/tip
  • Publish a post of your own, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites)

We hope to see you in the kitchen!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen August 11, 2010 at 7:32 am

Love all the information you are sharing. One contribution I have this week for Summer Fest is a Garden Salad from my garden

Sarah August 11, 2010 at 10:00 am

My garden is abundant with beans and herbs this time of year! I’ve realized already that I need to plant more beans next year, if we’re going to fulfill my plan of eating them fresh, freezing and canning for winter AND drying for soup beans. This year? Ours have mostly been eaten green. . . . Here’s my favorite ways to eat the veggies from this week’s theme . . .

Green Beans with Balsamic Tomatoes, Bacon & Basil

Mojito Melon Salad featuring fresh mint, lime and honey

Dilly Beans, perfect for stirring Bloody Mary’s!

And, of course Pesto, which we eat on everything!

and one of my family’s favorite use for pesto is as the base for a quick ranch dressing (I do have two little ones after all!)

Thank you for hosting Summer Food Fest! I can’t wait to see the other contributions!


Ranjani August 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

That lavender pound cake looks amazing! I have a bunch of dried lavender in the pantry, so I think I’m going to have to try this one out soon.
For Summer Fest this week, I made pasta with greens, beans, and garlic bread crumbs:

Liam O'Malley August 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

I’m in!

Summer Fresh Garden Herbs and Compound Butter –

I love the lavender uses. That is a seriously under-used herb around my house.

Melissa August 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Love all the herb info.

This week for SummerFest at It’s The Way She… I baked Lemon-Thyme Walnut Biscotti

Lauren August 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I love it! What a fun idea to create a virtual garden :).

I wrote about playing with your food this week :).

Kim August 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

At Flexitarian Foodie, we’re into beans and greens—together, or separately! Here are a few of our favorite related posts:

Beans & Greens: The Soup

Creamy Vegetable Lasagna

Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas (my favorite!!!)

Di Palo Selects August 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Herbs go ggreat with Italian food! check out for specialty Italian food products that can be delivered right to your door! The products all come from Di Palo’s Little Italy in NYC, a specialty Italian foods deli serving only the finest cheeses, cured meats, pasta products, olie oils and others products imported directly from Italy.
Happy Eating,
Di Palo Selects

marla {family fresh cooking} August 11, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Your featured dossiers sound like a very busy crew! Love the way you highlight ingredients & we get to learn lots in return.

Here is my recipe for this weeks Summer Fest, I highlighted Basil:
Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Winnie August 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I wrote about one of my favorite herbs in honor of this week’s summer fest. It’s anise hyssop, and the post is found here:

Kate @ maître de moda August 12, 2010 at 10:11 am

these all sound fabulous!
here is my contribution, quinoa and spice-grilled shrimp with herb-y pistou

caitlin August 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I love this week’s ingredients. I am cooking up a storm with my garden gluts.

One for my bunches of parsley and basil:

And kale, does anyone else have masses of kale to harvest right now?

Naseer August 17, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Here’s Emily’s contribution on Green Thumb Geeks for “herbs, beans, and greens” week: Tomato Mozzarella Paninis with Basil Pesto.

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