The recipe for this herb puree needs its own post because it and variations on it are useful all the time. This one has basil and parsley, but this basic idea is great whenever you want to use any herb flavor–from cilantro (awesome on soups, corn salad and on tacos, especially when you do a street-style taco), just basil (awesome on almost anything with tomatoes, soups, pastas (if you add pine nuts and parmesan, you have an almost classic pesto!)), tarragon (awesome on roast and grilled fruits) and the list just keeps going. Really, there’s a puree for every soup when you know what kind of flavor you want to play with. It’s fun because when you garnish with a green purees, you get to keep both the flavor and the color of the herbs and greens in a hot food like a soup. If you just cook the flavor in, not only does it change and mellow, but herbs and greens tend to go brown given any opportunity to do so. I like to include a dark leafy green in many of my purees (for example, arugula, spinach, kale, and so on), not only for body and flavor, but because the color it gives to the puree is unbeatable.
I know a lot of people blanch and refresh (quickly boil in salted water, then put in ice water) their herbs before pureeing them, and that’s great! You can get an eye-poppingly bright green that way, and it’s much easier to get a smooth puree before everything goes brown. I choose not to do that a lot of the time. I believe that the flavor from the fresh herbs is better, and a lot of the time I’m very happy to have a rough puree rather than a smooth one. I don’t think that you have the same flavor from herbs that have been boiled and have been sitting in water. You can absolutely have a great flavor, but it’s often not the one I’m trying to capture. So much of my love for the green puree comes from having a garden full of fresh herbs and leafy greens, and the idea of that is what I want to capture for my summer dishes.
This recipe is more a starting point than anything else. You can substitute anything you want and get something that is incredibly, tasty, alive, and full of nutrition!
Herb Puree aka Green Puree
- 2 bunches Basil
- 1/3 cup Arugula (feel free to substitute fresh spinach)
- 1/2 bunch Parsley
- 2 Tbs Garlic, rough chopped
- 1 pinch Chili Flake
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1 cup Olive Oil - you might need more if you have blender issues
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Put all ingredients in a blender and process until well mixed.
- Be careful to watch your puree because the blades heat the herbs and will cause the whole thing to turn brown if you blend it too much. If you're having trouble with your blender, adding a little extra olive oil might be what you need. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
That’s it! That’s the whole thing!
Keep your herb puree cold in the refrigerator in order to maintain that nice bright green color. I’m officially telling you guys that it will be good for 3-5 days, but I know people who have made herb purees like this that have lasted for years! The olive oil does an amazing job of preserving things.
I like to start with the olive oil and garlic, just to get the garlic really well chopped, but that has a lot to do with the fact that I have a seriously old cracked and warped blender. If you have a good one, you can skip that, and even skip chopping the garlic first! A kingdom for the Vitamix we had at nearly all of the kitchens I ever worked in!!!