Do you cook with tubular herbs?

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.

All summery tasting, even though its winter…

I’ve tweaked my vegie lasagne recipe, using the tube garlic and tube basil. It worked out great…

The best-ever vegetarian lasagne

Tomato sauce
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

Spinach layer
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
_________________________

2. CONVENIENCE

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…

thai chicken meatballs

Four herbs in one squeeze was pretty handy…

Asian chicken meatballs with udon noodles & vegies

2 slices wholemeal bread
1 zucchini
5 spring onions
1 egg
500g chicken mince
2-3 tbsp tube Thai seasoning (start with 2 if your kids are fussy)

Sauce
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

Serve with…
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.

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Barbara Good said,

    I think I tried these ages ago with some coriander, something I’ve never had much luck growing and when I buy a bunch it goes black and slimy before I can use the whole thing so I also get why you might use herbs in tubes. Now I just freeze left overs when I have them, they don’t thaw out looking the same but I you do get the flavour hit, albeit slightly less intensely than with the fresh stuff. I did pick a big bunch of my basil last night to make possibly the last pesto of the season. I don’t think you can beat the real deal for a dish as simple as pesto pasta.

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      yes, i’m newly converted – they are pretty handy. but true, i wouldn’t want to use them for pesto — especially when you’re used to beautiful home-grown basil (I’m a bit jealous of your green thumb!)

  2. 3

    Teresa said,

    Your vegetarian lasagne looks amazing! I think I’ll put it on next fortnights menu planner and give it a go…. I’ll even test out the gourmet garden basil!

  3. 5

    Lisa @ MummysUndeservedBlessings said,

    Loved your post. I agree about the fresh herbs but since getting these one for the promotion I am having a lot of fun squeezing them into things. Especially the chilli. If you want to join in my link up this weekend I am linking up with other bloggers who entered the Blog off/Cook off. Go to http://www.mummysundeservedblessings tomorrow and join in.

  4. 6

    Jodie Parke said,

    Thanks for the recipe. We tried it tonight and loved it!

  5. 7

    I can’t wait to try these recipes (and thanks to the blog off I have the herbs in my fridge)


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