I don’t often do PR-type posts. It’s not my thing to run a food/parenting blog then suddenly start posting about the awesomeness of a chainsaw – how easy it is to use, the sexy ear muffs etc etc. It makes for boring reading.
But I was sent a bunch of herbs in tubes from Garden Gourmet, on the proviso that I use them in some recipes and post about it. I’m happy to join in a ‘blog off’ if the products are relevant.
Now I’m sorry Garden Gourmet, but generally I like my herbs fresh – you’ll never convince me that anything from the supermarket is better than something freshly picked from my garden. HOWEVER, I can see two definite benefits to the tubular stuff… 1. when you want to use a herb that’s out of season and 2. convenience. So I’ve tested them out on two recipes that fit these categories.
1. OUT OF SEASON
Basil is the perfect example of a herb that really disappears during winter and seeing as the dried stuff is a waste of everyone’s time and money, I’m happy to have a go and see if I can get a bit of summer-loving into my cold nights.
I’ve tweaked my vegie lasagne recipe, using the tube garlic and tube basil. It worked out great…
The best-ever vegetarian lasagne
800g can chopped tomatoes
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tube garlic paste
¼ cup sliced black olives (optional)
2 cups finely diced vegies (try broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and carrot)
3 tbsp tube basil
Salt & black pepper
250g grated mozzarella
300g cottage cheese
150g other cheese of your choice (crumbled feta, grated cheddar, grated parmesan)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 bunch silverbeet, blanched and chopped or a frozen 200g box of spinach, thawed, with the excess liquid squeezed out
500g box instant lasagne sheets
Handful grated cheese, for topping
Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 5-litre lasagne dish with cooking spray.
For the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the initial crunch is taken out of the vegies and onion. Everything gets baked later, so avoid overcooking at this stage.
For the spinach layer, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to get everything mixed through well.
Now you’re ready to begin layering. This is the order: enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, then pasta (break sheets to cover entire layer), half the spinach, pasta, half the remaining tomato sauce, pasta, rest of the spinach, pasta, rest of the tomato sauce. Did you keep up?
Top with a little more grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and YUM.
SERVES 2 ADULTS & 4 KIDS
I was intrigued by the tube of Thai seasoning. With one squeeze I’ve got lemongrass, ginger, coriander & chilli. I can dig that. Here’s what I did with it…
Asian chicken meatballs with udon noodles & vegies
2 slices wholemeal bread
5 spring onions
500g chicken mince
2-3 tbsp tube Thai seasoning (start with 2 if your kids are fussy)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp tube garlic
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
Udon noodles, beans & carrots. A sliced up spring onion for a garnish would be great.
For the sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
For the meatballs: Use a mini food processor (or stick blender, whatever you want to call them), to make breadcrumbs with the bread. Add it to a large bowl. Use the gadget to also quickly blitz up your spring onions and zucchini. Add them to the bowl, then add in the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix well. I use kitchen gloves to finish mixing by hand then roll out the meatballs.
Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning until golden all over and cooked through (takes about 10 minutes). Do this in batches rather than overcrowding the pan.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to packet directions. Leave the carrots & beans raw, or steam or microwave them slightly.
Pop everything in a bowl and you’re done. Somehow a splurt of coriander from a tube just doesn’t make a good garnish – next time I’ll make sure I have an extra spring onion to slice and scatter over to make it look pretty.
So yes, fresh herbs in plastic tubes are handy, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with them a bit more – at least until I can get my basil plant going again next summer.