Frozen Herb Balls

Yep, I went there. Surprised? Let’s face it; no one wants to cook in this heat. Currently it’s 94° and you could literally fry and egg on the blacktop.  Anything frozen in 94° heat sounds good to me. {While battling strep this week I’ve easily put away a dozen popsicles in the last 2 days. Don’t judge.}

PileOfBasil

This time of year, you have to keep a close eye on prolific herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley or they may just bolt before you get to their delicious greens. Rare Earth loves basil, they love basil more than anyone I know. I easily receive 4-5 pounds of basil throughout the CSA season, and I’m the last one to complain! This week’s pound of basil almost got away from me, but I was able to save it just in the nick of time by making frozen basil balls! Freezing herbs in olive oil and salt is a superb means of preserving the fresh herb flavor for use all year around. Toss those herbed balls into pasta, When the temperature drops to 25° and you’re wearing wool socks, you’ll thank me for this one.

Ingredients:

2 cups basil, stems removed (parsley and cilantro also work well for this recipe)
2-3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1tsp Salt
2-3 cloves of garlic

Remove the basil from the stems. Cram the basil leaves into a food processor, and add the evoo. Add salt and garlic and pulse* until a paste forms. Using a cookie dough scoop, portion herb paste onto parchment paper on top of a sheet tray, leaving an inch or so in between scoops. Pop the sheet tray into the freezer for an hour or 2, until frozen, then place frozen basil balls into a zip lock. It’s helpful to label the bag with a date and which herbed balls are inside. You can use the basil balls in infinite recipes all year ‘round. My favorite – tossing an herb ball into a fresh baked bowl of spaghetti squash. The possibilities are endless.

BeforePulseAfterBasilBalls

Vocab Lesson!

BroccoliBolt

*Bolting – Bolting is when an herb (or plant) goes to seed after the fruit or vegetable has ripened. With basil plants, a large thick cluster of leaves forms, with small buds in the center. This often changes the taste of the herb or vegetable to an undesirable flavor. By trimming back the herb, the plant is forced to send up new shoots or stems, keeping the plant full and healthy, and the basil a’comin.

{This is what a broccoli plant looks like when it goes to seed}

*Pulse – To pulse a food processor is to push the power button on and off in rapid successions. This causes the contents of the food processor to settle briefly before being mixed again, to create a more even mixture. Using the count of “One-one-thousand” is a good standard count when pulsing.

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Caramelized Scallion and Cilantro Compound Butter

Compound butters are a lifesaver. Well not literally, but they are a great way to maintain fresh flavor all year long, and make quick work of large amounts of herbs that need to be used quickly.   The butter is frozen into easily accessible logs.  Butter makes a great canvas. There are so many flavor combinations and never a wrong answer. It’s a great addition to sautéed greens, add to scrambled eggs, toss with pasta, and would be a mighty fine way to finish off a steak while it rests. The only real question is, what can’t you add butter to?
ShallotGreensRoastedShallotSidebySide
I just love the beautiful scallions from Rare Earth. The contrast of the purple bulbs with bright green stems scream summer flavor.  The combination of caramelized scallions adds a robust flavor and dimension, while the cilantro gives freshness. Summer, butter, love.

Ingredients:

1 bunch scallions, about 6 medium (you can use white or purple)
1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup with stems removed)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Parchment paper and plastic wrap

Remove the furry roots from the scallions, and peel away any outer parts that look wilted or dirty. Cut the green stems off the bulbs of the scallions, and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Chop the green stems, and save about 1 cup. Add evoo and 1TBS butter to a skillet over medium heat, until butter is melted. Add scallions and cook until softened and just slightly caramelized, about 7-10 min. Remove scallions from pan and let cool on a paper towel. Add butter, cilantro, chopped green onions and scallions to a food processor. Process until everything is blended and whipped together. Be careful not to over process the butter or it will break and curdle. This is bad.

WhippedButterButterRoll
Tear a sheet of parchment paper about 18″ long, and layer 2 sheets of plastic wrap on top of it. Slap that butter right on top of the plastic and form it into a long rectangle. The stiffness of the parchment paper will help you form your log. Fold the parchment and plastic over the butter and roll into a log about 2″ in diameter, or like a regular stick of butter. Twist the ends of the plastic to seal the butter, careful to removeany large air pockets. Place in freezer to set and store. When you’re ready to use the compound butter, just slice off what ever amount you need and add it to any dish just as you would regular butter. You’ll never go back to boring old butter ever again, I swear by it.