For this delightful picnic, we took advantage of one of summer’s best bounties: fresh herbs. Most of the herbs we used are easy to grow and fairly commonplace, so if you don’t grow your own, they should be easy to find.
Summer Picnic Menu:
Iced Herb Gazpacho
This healthy, easy summer recipe is best when it’s made from garden-fresh ingredients. Chill for at least an hour or two before serving.
Fresh Tarragon Potato Salad
Redolent with fresh garlic and tarragon, this unusual twist on a classic picnic favorite adds a touch of country French to an American picnic table. Substitute fresh dill or cilantro if you don’t like tarragon.
Herb Fried Chicken
Of all the fried chicken recipes I’ve encountered—and I make a point of tasting fried chicken at any opportunity—I like this one best. The flavor-packed crust has plenty of texture (from the oats and herbs) and colorful specks of green.
Peppermint is the only mint with enough oomph to stand up to chocolate. Use fresh-chopped peppermint leaves or, in a pinch, substitute store-bought peppermint extract. Making this in a small-capacity slow cooker is a foolproof way to melt the chocolate.
Quick Tips for Cooking with Herbs
• The flavors and aromas of fresh herbs are more complex and delicate than those of dried herbs.
• If you must store fresh herbs, do so in the refrigerator. Cold slows down deterioration.
• Herbs grown in full sun generally are more
flavorful than those grown in a hothouse or in shade.
• Make sure herbs are completely dry before cutting them. Wet herbs stick to your knife and turn to mush.
• Use a very sharp knife for chopping herbs.
• Most herbs are best added only during the last 15 minutes of cooking so their aromatic oils remain intact. (This isn’t as important for the recipes here, but good to know.)