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No, it does not involve ice cube trays full of pesto.

June 01, 2017

I like the idea of tending an herb garden outside my kitchen window, but like most busy people with crazy to-do lists, I buy my parsley, cilantro, and mint from the grocery store. Sue me. It’s easy and cheap—and requires a lot less organic compost. But here’s the catch with supermarket herbs: They come in big bunches, and are often a lot more than you need for the chicken kebabs or refreshing batch of mojitos you’re whipping up.

We all know that letting them slowly wilt and turn to green sludge in your crisper drawer is a bad option. But let’s be real here: Despite what the internet tells us, hauling out the food processor, making a pesto, and freezing individually-portioned blocks in an ice cube tray is kind of cray.

If you do not have the kind of time to grow your own herbs, you probably do not have the time to make mini pesto ice cubes.

Instead, make a salad.

Related: How to Make a Southern Waldorf Salad

 

A gigantic herb salad is the only method I actually employ on the regular to use up my herbs, and it takes no time at all to throw together. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Start with tender herbs, like parsley, cilantro, mint, savory, or chervil. 

Hardy herbs like rosemary and sage are better chopped up and used in salad dressings or marinades. Remember: You’re not cooking them, so they should be easy to chew and mild-tasting.

2. Separate the leaves from the stems.

The leaves are sweet and delicious, but you don’t want to gnaw on a parsley stem. If you have time to spare or a kitchen helper, you can pick each leaf from the stem. When I’m in a hurry, I just chop the stems off with a knife as close to the leaves as possible. It’s not perfect, but it works.

3. Dress them with a light vinaigrette.

Herbs won’t stand up to a creamy or heavy dressing (save the creamy Caesar for your kale and romaine). Instead, use a lighter, simple vinaigrette that won’t leave the herbs drowning in oil.

4. Don’t dress in advance. 

Because they are so delicate, herbs should not be dressed until just before serving. You don’t want them to turn into a soggy mess!

5. Fill it out with salad greens.

If you don’t have quite enough herbs for a stand-alone salad, make up the difference with soft and tender greens, like spring mix or baby arugula. You may find that the herbs add so much flavor, you can use less dressing and salt! Now there’s a win-win.

Sounds simple? It is. And that’s totally the point.

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