I just discovered one of the best ways to use fresh herbs before they go south: Compound Butter.
This is so simple I can’t believe I never thought of it until now. And the only reason I thought of it now was because one of our clients dropped by with a 5-gallon bucket FULL of fresh basil. It was fantastic! The smell alone was enough to declare them my new best friends.
I quickly set about plucking the leaves and flowers from the stems. I made a simple syrup with the flowers, which I poured into plastic bags after cooling and placed them in the freezer for future cocktail enhancement.
A gallon of pesto later, spooned into ice cube trays and frozen, I still had a fair amount of basil leaves left. A quick search on google and presto: butter made better. If that’s even possible.
I’m imagining instant flavor to a hot baked potato, a juicy steak, or creamy polenta! Or, simply lathered on a slice of fresh-from-the-oven artisan bread. Mmmmmm … upping your game is endless with this gem! Now I’m eyeing my herb garden with ideas for holiday-worthy combinations. It’s so easy, why not?
1/4 cup Basil Leaves, finely chopped (or any fresh herb)
1/2 cup Butter, room-temperature (soft)
Parchment Paper, 6″ strip
Aluminum Foil, 6″ strip
1) Place butter, salt, and pepper in bowl and mix until soft and creamy. An electric mixer would be okay to use for this step, but I just resorted to a heavy fork and bowl.
2) Add chopped basil and gently hand mix just long enough to distribute basil evenly throughout butter. Too much mixing would obliterate the basil, resulting in green butter. The flavor would still be there, but it may not look very appetizing. Except maybe on St. Patrick’s Day.
3) Spoon onto long edge of parchment and roll the paper and butter into the shape of a log.
4) With the parchment still wrapped around the butter, roll again in aluminum foil to properly preserve for refrigeration.
5) Refrigerate at least 1 hour before use to ensure log can be easily sliced without losing its shape.
Keep refrigerated; it’ll last several weeks. Or, you can freeze up to 3 months for future use.