Using up your herbs

I struggle with how to use ample amounts of mint and cilantro.  I can easily find uses for basil, and any of the Simon & Garfunkel herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme).  But I really only think of cilantro in salsa and I really only think of mint in cocktails.  Not that this heat isn’t perfect for surviving on mojitos and chips and dip, but that diet doesn’t lend itself to productivity in life.  So when I have questions about how to use a specific flavor or ingredient, I turn to one of my favorite foodie gifts I’ve ever received.

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Niki Segnit’s Flavor Thesaurus isn’t filled with recipes but instead lists flavor pairings.  I find this easier when doing menu planning than flipping through all of my cookbooks.  With this book in hand, I looked for what to do with mint and found that it pairs well with meat, citrus, cilantro, and onion.  Sounded like a marinade to me!

Out came the tiny Weber, that we illegally grill on off our back patio (a.k.a glorified fire escape) and the food processor.  I picked up a pork tenderloin and The Lady got to work mixing up the marinade.  She combined:

  • 1/2 bunch of mint leaves
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 1 stalk of chopped up green garlic (use all of the white and light green parts)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Once pureed all together, she marinated the pork for about an hour (but longer would have better).  The flavor was awesome, and Iv’e been eating the left over sliced pork with my eggs in the morning and on late night sandwiches after work.  Try this and tell me what you think.  

How did you use this week’s share?

What is cousa?

Cousa is a light colored squash in the summer squash family. It can be used just like zucchini and the taste is similar. Originally from the Middle East, it can be found in a lot of Lebanese and Syrian recipes. This is one of our favorites. For vegetarians, sub chickpeas for the beef and veggie broth for chicken broth.

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Stuffed Zucchini in Yogurt Sauce – Kousa bel Laban

From Scent of Syria, 2011

Ingredients:
1½ kg small sized zucchini or cousa
200 g ground beef
1 cup short grain rice*
2 cubes chicken broth
3 crushed gloves of garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon dry mint
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion finely chopped (optional)

*It’s also nice to add pine nuts!

4 cups of plain yogurt
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dry mint
½ teaspoon coriander

Preparation:
1. Hollow out each zucchini, using a special utensil (found in Middle Eastern Food stores) or an apple corer, removing all seeds and leaving shells about 1/3 inch thick.
2. Put rice and beef in a pot and add 2 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, salt, mint, allspice. Stir pot until mixed
3. Stuff zucchini shells with meat mixture (make sure that you only stuff 1/3 of the zucchini as rice will expand during cooking)
4. Using a cooking pot, pour water in the pot and 2 cubes chicken broth and add to it the stuffed zucchini and bring it to a boil, let it boil for about 10 minutes
5. In large pot mix the yogurt, egg, 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon dry mint, garlic and ½ teaspoon coriander) and stir constantly on medium heat (don’t stop at all – if you do the yogurt sauce will break apart)
6. When the yogurt starts to boil, add it to the stuffed zucchini and hot water and cook it on a low flame for about 20 minutes