Fresh herbs to tantalise our taste buds and bring joy to our gardens

I hope you had a lovely weekend. The waves beckoned and many went swimming, spring flowers are gently opening their petals to the sunshine and our gardens are blooming with goodness. 
The market is pumping on sunny days during late autumn, winter and early spring when languishing in the sun with friends and family is so appealing. 

We are spoilt for choice with the diversity of beaches, estuaries,  headlands and bushwalking area in the Tweed to enjoy during this delightfully mild time of year. From our vast expanses of beach for walks and romps in the sand where our littlies and dogs can run free, to our villages, each with their unique character. We have so many beautiful places to gather with friends and family any day of the week. 

We deeply appreciate that so many of you choose our market on Wednesday mornings. 

What’s GREAT at the Market?

Winter cooking is enhanced by using fresh herbs and from my experience nothing beats fresh, so this week I am focussing on picked and potted herbs. 

There is such a great range of herbs at most of our organic stalls. Ryan at Summit Organics has mint (Daphne in the photo above is picking it for us) , coriander, flat and curly leafed parsley, garlic chives, fennel, thyme and dill – so many to enjoy. I have been using most of these in my green smoothie each morning and wow, the garlic chives add to the flavour. 

Did you know that gram per gram, there is generally more nutrition in raw parsley than in lettuce. Parsley has 33 times the amount of vitamin C, 16 times the amount of vitamin K, six times the amount of iron and four times the amount of calcium as lettuce I read somewhere, but I am no authority so maybe do your own research to be sure.

While herbs have a solid reputation as garnishes and flavourings they are actually much more than that. Here are some ways to incorporate more herbs into meals:

  • Top buttered pasta with chopped fresh herbs 
  • Top an omelette or scrambled eggs with any chopped herb
  • Whip mashed potatoes with parsley or finely chopped garlic chives
  • Sprinkle chives on a sandwich or bread rolls with cream cheese and chives make an egg salad sandwich extra special
  • Make tabbouleh with parsley
  • Mix herbs into mayonnaise and butter
  • Infuse olive oil with herbs
  • Blend mint into strawberry and blueberry smoothies
  • Top cucumbers and green beans with dill, and
  • Here’s an old favourite – toss peas with mint.

And don’t forget pesto made with parsley and coriander too. There are lots of jars of pesto at Spice Palace if you don’t want to make your own.

This week’s recipe is for eggplant with herbs and crispy garlic by – guess who? Yes, my favourite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi who said,

I’m hesitant about calling this a salad, because it is more of a condiment or antipasto. Still, it is definitely a starting point for a salad that you can take in all sorts of directions: add cooked butterbeans and dried or fresh cherry tomatoes and increase both vinegar and oil; or mix with some just-cooked baby potatoes, roughly crushed, and serve warm with fresh rocket folded through and some extra olive oil; or add feta chunks and lightly toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and spoon over grilled sourdough.

I hope that this description has piqued your interest sufficiently to check out this recipe in this weeks newsletter. 

More that’s GREAT at the Market …

Potted herbs are also great this week and in fact, every week.

Lyn and Tim at our Mad Mountain Organic Farm stall have a vast variety of potted herbs that includes some of our regular favourites and lots of really unusual ones that I have not seen anywhere else. Take the sawtooth coriander that goes by many names and is native to Central America. The three most common names for this leafy herb plant is sawtooth coriander because of its serrated edges all around the leaf and Mexican coriander that Lyn and Tim call it and finally long leafed coriander as you can see in the photo above. It certainly is a fascinating plant.  

In Thai, it is called “Pak Chi Farang”. Its scientific name is Eryngium foetidum. It is extremely fragrant and smells stronger than the regular coriander. It grows well in full sun, hot and humid weather. The fresh leaves are used to flavour curries, soups, stews, rice and fish dishes. Like most herbs it also has medicinal values. 

Above is a photo of my flourishing bush of Okinawa spinach with its delightful purple underside. I realise it is technically not herb but it does give you an idea of the diversity of seedlings available at Mad Mountain Organics.

I have many plants in my garden collected over the past few years from Lyn and Tim’s unique range of seedlings. I use them all regularly to add variety to the many other leafy greens that I purchase from our farm stalls each Wednesday.  

Also great this week is Sylva Lining Organic’s pomelos. What is a pomelo? It looks like an extra large grapefruit but the pomelo fruit is surprisingly delicious tasting like a grapefruit but without the bitterness or sour flavour. It is neither particularly sweet, nor tart!