Herb vinegar is pleasing both to the eye and palette. Using herb vinegar in cooking emphasizes flavor without added fat and few calories. You will need a full cup of herbs to make two cups of vinegar. You can either use just one type or even up to three herbs. Use a good quality vinegar – either cider, white- or red-wine. You can consider matching the following:
Vinegar type herb
Cider oregano, parsley, sage
White-wine basil, chives, cilantro
Red-wine rosemary, sage, thyme
Place 1 cup of herb leaves and tender stems in a quart jar. Pour 2 cups of room temperature vinegar in and make sure the leaves are all covered. Cover with plastic wrap or a non-metal lid and store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. The strain out the herbs and put the vinegar into small bottles, adding fresh herb sprigs for decoration.
Cover tightly with a cork or cap.
Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
2 Tbsp. lemon balm, minced
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. brown sugar
8 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Mix first 7 ingredients together and then slowly blend in the oil. Mix well before serving. This is delicious on salads, especially fish or chicken salads. You can also marinate chicken or fish piece in this mixture before cooking. After cooking, serve the vinaigrette as a sauce. Makes about 2/3 cup. (from Steele-Carlin)
LEMON BALM (MINT) BREAD
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 c. finely chopped lemon balm leaves
1 c. sugar (I use 2/3 c.)
2 lg. eggs
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c. sifted flour (I use 1 3/4 c.)
1 tsp. baking powder
Grated rind of lemon (I add 4 tsp. lemon juice)
1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Cream butter with mint leaves; add sugar and beat well - add rest of ingredients. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees until well done. Grease and flour pans.
Glaze: Juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use 1/4 cup), 1/2 cup hot water, and 1/4 cup finely chopped leaves. Mix glaze. When remove bread from oven, let sit in pan and glaze 4-6 hours. Then refrigerate or freeze. Can use any type of mint leaves.
Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Special equipment needed: A food processor
Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Makes 1 cup. (from SimplyRecipes.com)
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.