Cooking with herbs


Cooking with herbs

Infuse your meals with bursts of flavour with the help of fresh greens that can elevate these simple dishes to the next level

By Surabhi Sehgal, food stylist & recipe developer (; Instagram: @supaintsonplates)

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Published: Fri 19 Oct 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 19 Oct 2018, 2:00 AM

Cilantro Curry with Sweet Potatoes
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled, diced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1 can coconut cream
1 small piece ginger
2 cups cilantro, cleaned
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
7-8 curry leaves
Green/red chillies to taste
1 tsp lime juice
Heat the oven at 200°C.
Add sweet potatoes to a baking tray with some oil and salt; mix well and bake for 20 minutes, until cooked.
For the sauce: add coconut cream, ginger and cilantro to a blender; blend to a fine paste and strain.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a skillet and add cumin and mustard seeds.
Once they splutter, add curry leaves and chopped chillies.
Add the strained mix and salt, then cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the baked sweet potatoes.
Top with some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Serve with rice.
NOTE: Cilantro, coconut and sweet potatoes could well be a match made in heaven. Silky smooth cilantro curry tempered with chillies, cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves tastes zesty and spicy. The sweetness of the potatoes adds the perfect balance to the dish!

Parsley Pesto Crostini
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
For the pesto:
1 cup parsley leaves, cleaned
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or more to blend)
¼ cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
For the crostini:
1 baguette, sliced
Olive oil, to brush
100 gm feta cheese
8-10 olives, finely chopped
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
½ cup pomegranate arils
Microgreens, to garnish
Add parsley, olive oil, walnuts, garlic and salt to a blender. Blend to a coarse paste and refrigerate.
Brush the slices of baguette with olive oil and toast on a skillet. Spread pesto generously on the toasted bread.
Top with feta, chopped olives, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pomegranate and microgreens. Serve.
NOTE: Since parsley is widely available in the UAE, I wanted to make a pesto using it. The colour is intense and vibrant. Once mixed with walnuts, garlic and olive oil, the herb tastes like magic. Simple to whip up, you will be hooked onto this dish for sure!

Labneh with Herbs & Herb Oil
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
For the herb oil:
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup parsley leaves
5-6 cups chilled water
1 cup olive oil
For the labneh:
250 gm labneh
Salt to taste
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
Handful of purslane
Handful of fresh mint
½ tsp zaatar
½ tsp sumac
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tsp barberries
1 tbsp pomegranate
For the herb oil, boil water; add salt and parsley to boiling water for a minute. Remove once wilted and transfer to a bowl of chilled water.
Once cooled, remove parsley from water and transfer to a paper towel to dry.
Add parsley to blender together with a cup of olive oil and blend well. Strain and store in a bottle.
Whip the labneh till smooth. Add salt, garlic and finely chopped mint.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with purslane, fresh mint, zaatar, sumac, pumpkin seeds, barberries and pomegranate. Drizzle some herb oil on top and serve.
NOTE: Labneh is creamy and delicious on its own. It's the addition of garlic, fresh herbs, herb oil, and zaatar that make this dip utterly lip-smacking. Once you have the herb oil in the refrigerator, this recipe can be whipped up within minutes.

Herb Cheese-Stuffed Pasta with Basil Pumpkin Sauce
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serves: 3
For the pasta:
1 ½ cup store-bought pasta, for stuffing
200 gm ricotta cheese
2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
For the sauce:
1 ½ cup full fat milk
2 cups pumpkin, cubed
1 tbsp butter
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp all-purpose flour
Few basil leaves
Salt to taste
Add 1 cup milk to a pan along with the pumpkin cubes; cover and cook till soft (approx. 15 mins). Cool and blend, then keep aside.
Boil pasta in salted water till al dente (approx. 12-13 mins). Strain and keep aside till required.
In a bowl, add ricotta cheese, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix with a light hand.
Stuff this mixture in the cooked pasta and keep aside.
For the sauce, add butter to a pan; once hot, add garlic and sauté till light brown. Add the flour and puréed pumpkin. Stir till you have a thick sauce (add more milk, if needed). Add salt and fresh basil.
Add the pasta and cook gently, without stirring, till the pasta warms up (about 3-4 mins).
Serve and top with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
NOTE: Herb ricotta stuffed in pasta paired with a basil-flavoured buttery pumpkin sauce is a treat for the taste buds. A great dish with a simple-to-follow recipe to wow your guests!

Barley Beetroot & Mint Salad
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Serves: 4
1 cup pearl barley
6-7 cups of water, to boil
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp beetroot juice
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lime juice
½ cup mint
8-10 olives
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp slivered pistachios
100 gm feta cheese
Wash the barley and boil for about 30-40 minutes in salted water till plump and cooked. Strain and cool.
In a bowl, add olive oil, beet juice, honey and lime. Mix well.
Add this dressing to the boiled barley prepared earlier.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with mint, olives, nuts and feta.
Leave in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.
Serve and enjoy.
NOTE: This salad is a visual delight and will take centrestage at any table. It is sweet, earthy, salty and nutty. Fresh mint leaves balance out the dish completely and add freshness to boot.

Herb Puff Tart
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Serves: 6
280 gm ready rolled puff pastry (thawed overnight in the refrigerator)
1 ½ cup paneer
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
200 gm cherry tomato
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste
1 tsp lime juice
Handful of fresh mint
½ cup parsley, cleaned, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Oil a tart pan and dust with flour. Spread the puff pastry sheet on the tart pan evenly and refrigerate for an hour.
Heat oven to 175°C.
Poke holes in the puff pastry with a fork and bake for 15 minutes. If it puffs up, press it down with a spatula.
Add both the cheeses and bake again at 175°C for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Slice cherry tomatoes into halves. Add to a bowl with some salt, pepper, olive oil, lime juice and herbs.
Top the baked tart with these fresh tomatoes and mint. Serve.
NOTE: This herb tart made with puff pastry is perfect for days when one needs to make a stellar dish without putting in too much effort. The herbs and cheese paired with buttery puff pastry are pure indulgence. Cherry tomatoes marinated in mint and lime juice add the zing and freshness this tart needs!

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