Prepare to pluck your basil plant bare.
Wintertime cooking relies on loads of spices, but in summer, we bedeck dishes with handfuls of fresh herbs. And this year, we're vowing to give them top billing. And why not? Research finds that herbs contain a plethora of antioxidants. Basil, in particular, may have cancer-fighting properties, while oregano aids in digestion and parsley brings with it an impressive vitamin and mineral payload (including vitamins A, C, K, folate and iron). Here's what to do: Go to the farmers' market, gather up as many herbs as you can carry and use them to create these inspired summertime dishes.
As a main: Herbs, Spring Peas and Sprouts Salad
In a large bowl, toss together 2 cups torn Boston lettuce leaves; 1 cup each cilantro and flat-leaf parsley; ½ cup basil; ¼ cup each mint, spring peas, sprouts (such as alfalfa, sunflower or radish) and shaved asiago cheese; ½ an avocado, sliced; and 1 heirloom tomato, large diced. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp honey and a pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss salad with dressing.
As a side-dish: Spicy Basil-Fennel Medley
In a large bowl, toss together ½ cup each basil and cilantro; ¼ cup mint; 3 scallions, thinly sliced; 2 tbsp toasted pistachios; and 1 serrano chili, finely chopped. In a small bowl, whisk together juice of half a lime, 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, ½ tsp fennel seeds and a pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss dressing with herb mixture and serve alongside fish (such as halibut), chicken, pork or atop roasted carrots.
As a marinade: Zesty 3 Herb Marinade
In a large plastic zipper storage bag, place ½ cup each cilantro, parsley and oregano; ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil; 1 Tbsp harissa or sriracha; 2 cloves garlic, smashed; zest of 1 lemon; and 1 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Marinate fish, chicken, pork or beef in herb mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 8 hours, then cook as desired.