Summertime brings a bounty of cooking opportunities from the garden. So many opportunities, in fact, that when the garden is cranking out more than we can consume, our jubilation turns to panic. Avoid the horrible moment of realization that one simply can’t keep up with the maintenance and harvest of a productive summer garden. Just reassess cooking methods during the summer and commit to using the harvest in easy, stress-free recipes.
4 No-Cook Herb Sauces
• No-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce
• Basil Pesto with Hazelnuts and Dry Jack Cheese
• Chimichurri Sauce
• Salsa Verde
No-cook herb sauces use up produce, spice up summer foods healthfully, and save time and energy during the hot summer months. Not only do herbs taste great when eaten fresh, they’re also healthier since there’s no heat or water to dilute nutrients. When the zest of fresh herbs hits our palate, our taste buds are awakened without the overuse of salt. Blending fresh herbs with the mysterious umami, or the “fifth taste,” intensifies herbs’ flavor. Common umami or savory ingredients include capers, olives, meat and cheese—and some of these no-cook sauce recipes combine herbs and umami ingredients.
Aside from the health benefits of fresh herbs and of using less salt, no-cook herb sauces also eliminate the use of unhealthy fats, like butter and cream. And, no-cook sauces mean limited oven and stove use, which helps keep the kitchen and house cooler. My favorite part of no-cook sauces, though, is the aroma of fresh chopped herbs that fills the kitchen and lingers as these sauces rest a bit before enjoying.
Some of summer’s most prolific growers—basil, oregano, mint and marjoram—make an appearance in these recipes. And with all of these herbs, the more you harvest, the more they grow. Even if you don’t grow them yourself, your neighbor or a family member might and they would likely be happy to share.
So don’t stress about elaborate meals and intricate dishes to prepare during the summer. There’s too much work to do in the garden, too many warm evenings to enjoy outdoors and too much flavor to savor from your garden. With a few on-hand ingredients and simple steps, your fresh-cut herbs get top billing in these quick no-cook sauces.
Sophia Markoulakis is a San Francisco-based food and garden writer and recipe developer who focuses on how food and gardening intersect to create healthy and flavorful meals.