We are headed full steam ahead into summer, the time of bounty! Our local farmers markets and grocery stores are filling out with fresh, seasonal produce—and if we’re lucky to have gardens they are, too. When fresh fruits and veggies abound, it’s easy to include lots of them into our diets and lifestyles—making the warmer months a perfect time to jump-start our health with nutrient dense food. It’s also the time of year to take advantage of fresh herbs, whose delicious and aromatic attributes are not only a flavor boon but a major health boon as well.
To get you inspired for an herb-infused summer, we’re sharing a few of our favorite recipes. Enjoy!
Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Syrup
1 cup chopped rhubarb
½ cup honey
½ cup cane sugar
½ cup lightly packed fresh rose petals (¼ cup if using dried)
¾ cup strawberries
Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let rest and after 5 minutes has passed, mix again crushing the rhubarb a bit as you mix. Continue this pattern, mixing and crushing every 20 minutes for an hour.
While the rhubarb mixture is sitting, stem the strawberries. Using a blender or mortar and pestle crush the strawberries until well liquified. You are trying to yield a little over ¼ cup of blended strawberries.
At the end of the hour, strain the rhubarb mixture. Add the blended strawberries to the resulting rhubarb liquid and stir well. If sugar granules remain, continue stirring or transfer to a jar and shake until they dissolve.
What makes this syrup so divine is that it is not cooked, so the freshness of the ingredients really come through. It also means that it has a shorter shelf life than most syrups. Be sure to store the syrup in the fridge and use within one week. This particular recipe doesn’t yield too much (about 1 cup) due to its short shelf life. Feel free to double if you expect to go through it quickly!
I add it to soda water for a delicious and uplifting spritzer–adding a shot of white rum if I’m feeling extra fancy!
Tulsi Cucumber Salad
2 garden cucumbers, medium sized
1 small bunch of tulsi
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
This salad is both the simplest and most refreshing way to get your veggies this summer. Simply slice up the cucumbers in rounds, chop the tulsi leaves into small ribbons, and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let it sit for five minutes before enjoying to let the flavors marry.
If you don’t have tulsi, try subbing with lemon balm, lemon or thai basil, or mint.
Basil Ginger Mint Marinade
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (use two if they are on the larger side)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
¼ cup chopped mint
1/8 cup chopped basil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
(Note: if you prefer to use a local ingredient and live somewhere northerly, sub apple cider vinegar)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Combine all ingredients and shake well. Use as a marinade on chicken, pork, tofu or tempeh. Alternatively, add an extra ¼ cup of olive oil and one tablespoon of honey and use as salad dressing for a simple salad of greens, cucumber, and shaved carrots.
If not used all at once, store in the refrigerator.