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Finely chopped fresh herbs (and stuff) as a condiment/paste

 
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Like a lot of people, we are staying home right now, conserving our pantry, trying to make do with what we have (we are fortunate) and generally hunker down for the duration of the present public health emergency.  I'm gardening like a fiend but we aren't quite out of the woods in my area regarding risk of a late freeze (although it looks unlikely).  What that means, though, is that I don't have much in my garden to actually eat yet except winter-hardy greens and herbs, nor any huge quantity of those.  

All this means the usual snacks and junk foods aren't present -- we never stock much of them and they are long run through.  No big deal, there's plenty of wherewithal to cook just about anything.  If I want potato chips I can make some!  (Though I have not, and probably won't.)  This is not a food whine, just setting the stage for my question.

Last night I wandered out into the kitchen in the mood for a small and reasonably healthy snack.  I had the thick heel of a day-old loaf of 100% whole wheat bread made in a bread machine.  Perfect!  But not exciting.  Day-old 100% whole wheat bread will kill you with the boredom of chewing it, if you aren't careful.  I wanted to jazz it up a bit.  

Then my eyes fell on a handful of chives, cut but not used earlier in the day.  Starting to wilt on the counter.  Must eat those; waste not, want not.  

In a sort of speculative creative haze, I went out into the herb garden and, in the deep shadows of an inadequate security light, picked small amounts of oregano, parsley, and cilantro.  (I had a few self-seeded cilantro plants that survived the winter in sheltered spots as hammered little wizened things, only to explode about two weeks ago.)  Also, one fresh tender swiss chard leaf.

Took all the herbs inside and diced them finely into a bowl.  Reached into the fridge for my little jar of chipotle pepper paste, but accidentally came up with the two-ounce jar of capers, that still had a teaspoon left in the bottom.  Threw them in for little salt bombs.  Teaspoon of chipotle paste.  Squirt of bottled lemon juice.  This isn't a recipe, it isn't a thing, I just want some salty delicious goo to spread on the somewhat formidable wheat bread.  Ah, heck, why not?  I added a teaspoon of mayonaisse.   Mash/stir/blend to a fairly uniform paste.  Cut the bread in small strips and spread the green goop on them.

It was an intensely delicious and satisfying snack.  I will be doing this sort of thing again.

Fine, but I'd like more ideas in this theme.  I usually cook with my herbs, or put them in salads.  I'm usually too lazy to do fine minces and dices, perhaps explaining why I never did something like this before.  I'd Google, but what keywords?

It has notions in common with bruschetta (although my most advanced tomato plant is just now flowering, so no tomatoes yet).  It's got things in common with pesto, but no nuts or cheese in it.  I'm vaguely aware of fresh green chutneys made primarily from herbs in some South Asian culinary traditions, but exactly what a "chutney" is in this context is a nuance beyond me.  Aren't they cooked?  With onions and tomatoes it could be a pico di gallo or a salsa, but it's not.  This is minced herbs with salty seasonings and a bit of oil to bind it up, distribute the flavors, and give it a better mouth feel.  If it was mostly oil and only a little herb, I'd call it an aoili.  But it's not creamy enough for that.  It's really all about the herbs.

I don't really need a name for it.  But is this a thing?  Is this known?  Or did I just have an eccentric hunger moment?  All feedback welcome.  I'm also interested in hearing from anybody who eats their herbs like this (as a condiment/spread) and what other things you may throw in there.  Let's hear it!
 
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I often see "alt pestos" that involve herbs (or arugula) ground up with some sort of aromatic (could be citrus, or allium). It is way more than just basil and pine nuts!!
Fresh chutneys (I'm thinking mint and cilantro chutney) also can be just herbs ground up with some nice added flavors. Last night I made some chicken shwarma with homemade pitas and an herby dip (yogurt, lots of herbs I had in the garden, some grated cucumber and onion). Then there is always Persian cuisine, which has a lot of herb-heavy dishes (herbs in rice, fish in herbs, herb salads, herb sauces.....).
 
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Hey, Dan, you got may attention as this sounds so yummy!

I tried a search for something like that without coming up with a name.  I did find some other yummy recipes though.

I tried "Flavored Mayonnaise" which lead me to Alabama-Style White Barbecue Sauce

Searching "Butter" I found this one that sounds good, it is called Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

I like Chef John so I looked at some of his recipes:

Chef John's Mayo Method Steak Sauce

Thanks for the ideas.  I see more experimenting in my future!
 
Dan Boone
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Tereza Okava wrote:I often see "alt pestos" that involve herbs (or arugula) ground up with some sort of aromatic (could be citrus, or allium). It is way more than just basil and pine nuts!!



One summer I had a huge surplus of mustard greens from hand-scattering some bulk seed I got at the local hardware store.  I ended up making a pesto from mustard greens, olive oil (not much), and my local pecans.  It wasn't bad at all.  
 
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We make "pesto" regularly that never has had pine nuts and only rarely basil. Our recipe is basically soak some nut over night (often walnuts for us) herbs in a food processor (lots of cilantro, pesto, mint, arugula...) Add the strained nuts, maybe some garlic, some citrus juice, salt and pepper, then drizzle in oil while the processor is running until you hit the desired consistency.
Then eat it any way you can that doesn't make you feel like a goblin shoveling condiments into your mouth with a spoon and hoping your classier half doesn't walk in on you. Usually this means edible spoons like chips or crackers
 
pollinator
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We generally do not buy condiments we just have our mixes that we use.

When I make salads I have to consider that my wife has no teeth so I have from the last 14 years or so used the food processor in making salad.  Instead of salad dressing I emulsify a mixture of apple, pear, carrot, ginger root, celery and parsley sometimes something like grapes etc..   I then add that liquified emulsion to the salad and mix it in, then I top the salad off with a bit of fresh squeezed lime and or lemon or if I don't have those some apple cider vinegar.  The vinegar gives a bite and the fruit adds a moist sweetness to the salad.

For salsas and what not I use a tomato base with a large amount of celery, some cilantro, some jalapeno, some lettuce (easy on the lettuce it will make it bitter), some grated carrot, diced onion and a bit of cabbage, some garlic greens or sliced garlic clove, ginger root.  I emulsify this into a thick mixture and often add a little paprika, black pepper, some cayenne pepper etc.  It makes a great salsa or vegetable additive to burrito's.  We much prefer this over store bought salsas.

For sour cream I put an 8 ounce package of cream cheese in the food processor cut into 1 inch cubes and then I add about 2 cups of milk and blend until thick and creamy.  If you want more sour leave the milk out for a day or two before doing this.

For guacamole I do the same as above for sour cream but I add in 4 to 5 quartered avacadoes. Or as the wife calls it... "mom ice cream"....

I make a lot of vinegars out of various fruits and whatnot and I use them also in my condiments, I generally have on hand cherry vinegar form my cherry trees, apple vinegar from my apple trees, elderberry vinegar from elderberry trees, plum vinegar from my plum trees and Oregon grape vinegar from the wild Oregon grape that grows all over my forests.  These are great flavor additives to various condiments.

For stir fries I use tomato paste mixed with water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, various vinegars, various seasonings depending upon what flavor profile I am looking for.  I always have a gallon of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegarized jalapeno and horseradish sauce and liquid smoke.  I also keep a bulk supply of mustard powder and coffee cans full of corn starch to use in this process as well.  We use a great deal of condiments in our cooking and meals though we do not really buy any.  I quite enjoy Asian style food and the ability to make my own sauces and dips etc has been a must as buying these things is crazy expensive.

As for syrups and what not we gave up on buying syrup when the kids were young, 7 kids eating pancakes with syrup was nightmare, every door knob and flat surface in the house would be sticky by then end of a pancake meal.  As the kids got older I didn't like spending $10 on a jug of cheap syrup that they would eat through in 6 pancake meals.  I started making my own syrups with a combination of sugar, starch and whatever fruit I had available to work with.  I also learned to make a simple syrup with sugar, starch and butter, that makes such a good syrup even great grandma Reed had to get the recipe from me when she visited.

A good simple French style salad dressing...  7up or equivalent soda with a small amount of ketchup and whatever spices or seasons you may wish to modify it with.  

Thousand Island dressing some miracle whip with a bit of ketchup and again any spices that you may want to modify flavor profile with.

Tartar sauce...  I mix some miracle whip with some finely diced pickle a touch of sugar and a small dab of horseradish sauce.  The sugar helps to offset the bitterness of the horseradish.

For spaghetti sauce I use tomato paste mixed some Oregano, Basil, some basic Italian seasoning, some diced garlic as well as powdered garlic,  I then use a mixture of whatever vegetables I have on hand generally I  always have plenty of cabbage, celery, carrots, onions and zucchini.  I microwave the veggies and steam them and then cook them together in the sauce, I like a very thick sauce so I use a very large amount of veggies in the proportion.  Careful not to add salt to this mixture as tomato sauce is crazy salty to begin with.  I then just grind up whatever meat I happen to have into burger usually pork from hog slaughtering though sometimes venison, elk or moose.  I cook the meat up with a mixture of flavors basically about 50% breakfast sausage and 50% Italian sausage flavors.  My spaghetti sauce is usually about 60% meat, 35% vegetable and the rest is the tomato paste additive.  If you want a real treat in your spaghetti sauce or on a pizza you can grind up some bacon into burger and use that to make sausage out of, the best sausage I have ever eaten was a fine groun Italian sausage that I made out of mixing ground pork with cured bacon and just cutting back my Italian sausage season mix in it to keep from getting too salty.  

Hopefully this will give someone some ideas that may be useful to them.

 
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You had me salivating until you said mayo... I've seen a variety of herb paste and condiment recipes, but none quite like yours.
I can't have cheese regularly, so I don't make true pesto often. Internet searches for "herb paste" have been interesting, but they're mostly just herbs+oil and maybe salt or garlic. I've been on the look-out for more variety of additions for herb pastes.
I flipped through "The Pesto Cookbook" by Olwen Woodier awhile back, and your paste reminds me a little of that book. If I remember correctly, it has only a few pesto recipes and leans more toward herbal condiments.
 
Dan Boone
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Nikki Roche wrote:You had me salivating until you said mayo... I've seen a variety of herb paste and condiment recipes, but none quite like yours.



Yeah, in hindsight I'd have gotten a lot more value out of a tablespoon of olive oil.

My mindset was "sandwich spread", so I reached for that.  But a bit of oil would have accomplished the same thing and probably tasted better in that context.
 
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Looking up gremolata and tapenade may give you more ideas.

I have two go to toppings that I use especially on potatoes. Once is just chopped tomato, chives, and basil. Mostly chives and basil. The other topping is mostly olives. I've seen them labeled various things at the store. The ones I have now are labeled Moroccan olives. They're dry, black, and intensely salty and flavourful. I have them around all the time. A few of those chopped up with oregano and lemon juice is delicious on steamed potatoes and kale.

Edit: I went to make my tomato potato topping the other day and realised I'd forgotten to mention possibly the most important herb: parsley! Lots and lots of parsley. Don't bother without it.
 
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