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Herbs.(Photo by: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
PASCALE'S KITCHEN: The benefits of cooking with herbs
By PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN
06/15/2019
In Israel many people have begun to understand the benefits of adding fresh herbs to make dishes tastier.
As a kid, I remember hating all the little green pieces of herbs that my mother would add to her stews and salads. She would use dill, cilantro, thyme and parsley, as well as cut up pieces of assorted vegetables, such as celery, artichoke stalks, Swiss chard, grape leaves and cabbage.

I’ve put a lot of thought into trying to figure out what made me detest these herbs and vegetables so much when I was a kid, and I’ve come up with three possible reasons. First, I think I was put off by their weird names and their distinct smells. Second, their green color made me feel like I was eating grass. And third, I was resentful that I’d been forced to sit in the kitchen and wash them and check them for bugs instead of spending my time playing outside.

Over the years, obviously I came to love all these colors and flavors, which have become so important in my cooking. In Israel, too, many people have begun to understand the benefits of adding fresh herbs to make dishes tastier. In fact, many chefs even grow their own herbs at home on their windowsill, balcony or garden.

I myself have an organic herb garden at home, and I love having all these wonderful herbs on hand. I grab a little basil to add to a focaccia, dill for my Shabbat soup, and of course the ever-so-popular parsley, which works well on just about any dish. Of course, I’m careful with cilantro, since some family members adore it while others won’t go anywhere near it.

Tipascale
Preserving herbs
If you’d like to preserve cut herbs, chop them up, put them in a plastic bag, blow air into the bag before closing it tightly, and then store in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use the herbs, take the bag out of the freezer. Before opening the bag, rub the herbs between your fingers to separate the pieces.
Another way to preserve herbs is to chop them and then put them in an ice-cube tray. Add a little water to each and freeze. They’re perfect for adding to stews or soups.

Tipascale
The most important tip I can offer you regarding the use of fresh herbs in cooking is that they absolutely must be soaked in water for 30 minutes beforehand.
All lettuce leaves should be dried in a salad spinner. If you don’t have one, dry them with a towel.
Cut off thick stems, leaving only small, thin ones.
Chop herbs just before adding them to the salad.
If you’re short on time and must cut them ahead of time, store them in a container that is lined with paper towels, which will absorb any extra liquid. But never keep cut herbs more than 2 to 3 days in advance.

HERB AND NUT SALAD
Makes six servings.

1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
½ bunch mint
1 handful chopped chives
4 scallions
¾ cup dried cranberries with no added sugar or golden raisins
¾ cup thinly sliced almonds
½ cup walnuts

Salad dressing:
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice from 2 large lemons
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. pomegranate juice or cherry syrup
Rinse the herbs well and let them soak in a bowl of water. Cut off the large stems and chop finely. Transfer to a large bowl. Dice an onion and add pieces to bowl with herbs. Sprinkle cranberries, almonds and walnuts on top. Mix well.
Add all of the salad dressing ingredients to a jar with a lid or a salad dressing container and shake well. Pour over the salad mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in fridge until serving.

HERB AND NUT SALAD (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

HERB, LENTIL AND SUNFLOWER SEED SALAD
This rich and flavorful salad has a wonderful smoky flavor from the roasted cashews and sunflower sprouts.
Makes six servings.

1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
½ bunch mint
1 handful chopped chives
2 scallions
1 spicy green pepper
1 cup sunflower sprouts
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup lentils, cooked and drained
½ cup roasted cashews
¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds

Salad dressing:
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the herbs well and then leave them to soak in a bowl of water. Cut off the large stems and chop finely. Place chopped herbs in a large bowl. Chop the scallions and spicy pepper and add them to the bowl. Add the sunflower sprouts, garlic and lentils. Mix well.
Add all of the salad dressing ingredients to a jar with a lid or a salad dressing container and shake well. Pour over the salad mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle walnuts and cashews on top. Store in fridge until serving.

HERB, LENTIL AND SUNFLOWER SEED SALAD (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

BULGUR AND HERB SALAD
This salad has a unique and surprising mix of sweet and sour. It can also be made with cooked whole quinoa or whole couscous instead of bulgur.
Makes four servings.

1 cup bulgur, quinoa or couscous
½ bunch parsley, chopped finely
½ bunch mint, chopped finely
½ bunch cilantro, chopped finely
4 stalks celery
4 scallions, chopped finely
3 small pickled lemons
2 chili peppers, chopped (from pickled lemons)

Salad dressing:
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar-free silan
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. juice from pickled lemons

BULGUR AND HERB SALAD (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Pour boiling water over the bulgur and let it soak for 30 minutes, then drain. If you’re using couscous or quinoa instead, cook them as directed.
Rinse the herbs well and soak them in a bowl of water. Cut off the stems and chop finely. Add to bowl of bulgur.
Remove the strings of the celery and chop finely. Chop the scallions and add both to the bulgur.
Chop the pickled lemons and chili peppers finely and add to the bulgur. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix all the salad dressing ingredients and then pour over salad. Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in the fridge until serving.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin



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