Easy Winter Recipes

Favorite recipes using dried herbs for flavor and convenience.

| February/March 1996

Easy Winter Recipes:

• Country Pea Soup with Rosemary
• Wild Rice and Squash Pilaf
• Herb-Roasted Garlic
• Savory Sausage
• Leek Quiche with Thyme and Lavender
• Single-Crust Pie Shell
• Crusty Deviled Chicken
• Stuffed Cabbage 

Tips: How To Dry Herbs 

The dictionary has an overwhelmingly negative view of the word “dry”: stale, wearisome, uninteresting, sterile, stingy, insipid, plain, harsh, unenthusiastic, tough. But in the context of herbs, “dry” takes on a much more positive spin. Drying is the most popular means of capturing the flavors of the summer herb garden for good reason. Granted, most herbs are at their best when they are fresh and in season, but the reality of the off-season is that fresh herbs in many areas command steep prices in grocery stores, if they are available at all, and the small pots on the windowsill don’t always fill the gap. At such times, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, lavender, and savory—all herbs that hold up to drying—can help ­season the stews, soups, and other comforting and hearty foods that warm us when the cold winds blow.

Dried herbs don’t just tide us over the winter. In any season, dried herbs are sometimes just more convenient to use than fresh. Preparing fresh herbs—harvesting, washing, and stripping off their leaves —to flavor a dish isn’t difficult, but it can’t compare with the ease of scooping dried herbs from a nearby jar when you’re in a hurry or it’s raining.

Properly dried herbs can yield so ­intense a flavor and fragrance that you won’t recognize them as the old powdered stuff on the spice rack. The flavor of some herbs, such as rosemary and sage, can change or heighten on drying just as that of tomatoes does when they are sun-dried. Some cooks even prefer the dried flavor to fresh. And dried herbs may suit some recipes better than fresh or frozen—in breads, for example.

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