Thursday, April 23, 2009

156 Cheap, Healthy Recipes for Ten Common Leftover Herbs

(Sorry for the lateness of the usually-on-Wednesday article, everybody. Finding oregano recipes was much harder than I thought.)

When it comes to fresh herbs, I kind of wish sage was snack food, and go through parsley like most people go through underwear. Basil is a most beloved boat-floater, and during summer salsa season, nothing comes between me and a verdant bunch of deliciously soapy cilantro.


Right now, there are four half-used packs of fresh herbs (dill, sage, thyme, and &*#^$&*% oregano) sitting in my fridge. I can throw thyme in just about anything, but odds are the dill and oregano will make their homes in a Staten Island landfill very, very soon.

It’s a problem I often run into: I prefer cooking with fresh herbs because the flavor is markedly better than the dry ones, yet I rarely use a whole package before it goes bad. Freezing is always an option, but … I forget to do it. A lot.

In order to correct this behavior (and stop blowing $1.79 every time I need a teaspoon of dill), I embarked on a mission: a mission to find simple, healthy recipes that use up a buttload of leftover herbs. (And yes, “a buttload” is a true unit of measurement.) The results are below, and here’s what you need to know about ‘em:
  • The herb is a primary ingredient.
  • Each recipe is healthy and inexpensive according to the standards we usually use on this site. (See our FAQ.)
  • I’ve only made dishes with the CHG tag, and can subsequently vouch for them. All other recipes come from individual food blogs (which I generally trust) or aggregate recipe sites (All Recipes, Epicurious, etc.), where they’ve garnered at least an 85% approval rating from reviewers.
  • After each recipe title, I list the amount of the herb necessary to make the dish. Keep in mind that this is relative: two tablespoons of parsley isn’t a lot of parsley, but two tablespoons of rosemary is a LOT of rosemary.
  • Remember: recipes can be scaled up or down, depending on how much you’re making.
And with that … lots of recipes.


All Recipes: Ham and Fresh Basil Pinwheels (4oz)

All Recipes: Peppers Roasted with Garlic, Basil, and Tomatoes (1/2 cup)

All Recipes: Roasted Mushroom Salad (1/2 cup)

All Recipes: Spicy Basil Chicken (1 bunch)

CHG/Cooking Light: Fresh Tomato Lasagna (2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

CHG/Weight Watchers: Light Pesto (2 cups)

CHG/Cooking Light: Light Tomato Sauce (2/3 cup)

CHG/Jamie Oliver: Tomato and Bread Soup (1 large bunch)

Cooking Light: Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil (1/3 cup)

Cooking Light: Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil (1/4 cup)

Cooking Light: Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad (1-1/2 cups)

Cooking Light: Tomato Basil Soup (1/3 cup + more)

Dottie’s Weight Loss Zone: Basil Vinaigrette (1/4 cup)

Eating Well: Basil-Cinnamon Peaches (1/2 cup)

Eating Well: Green Bean Salad with Corn, Basil & Black Olives (1/3 cup)

Eating Well: Roasted Corn with Basil-Shallot Vinaigrette (1/4 cup)

Epicurious: Zucchini Basil Soup (1/3 cup)


All Recipes: Fresco Salsa (1 bunch)

All Recipes: Green Chutney (1 bunch)

All Recipes: Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa (1 bunch)

All Recipes: Simple Texas Salsa (1/2 bunch)

Buff Chickpea: Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus (1/2 cup)

CHG/Weight Watchers: Black Bean Salad with Fresh Corn (2/3 cup)

CHG/Gourmet Sleuth: Cactus Chili (1/2 cup)

CHG/Spring Street Natural Foods: Daikon (Jicama) Mango Slaw (1 bunch)

CHG/Mark Bittman: Falafel (1 cup)

CHG/Beyond the Great Wall: Grasslands Herb Salsa (2 cups)

CHG/Weight Watchers: Guacamole-Bean Dip Mashup (1 cup)

CHG/Beyond the Great Wall: Napa Cabbage and Red Onion Salad (1/2 cup)

Cilantro, Cilantro: Brown Rice Salad (1/4 cup)

Cooking Light: Fresh Corn-Cilantro Salad (2/3 cup)

Cookworm: Chickpea and Tomatillo Soup (1 cup)
Note: ease up on the olive oil.

Eating Well: Chilled Tomato Soup with Cilantro Yogurt Swirl (6 tablespoons)

Eating Well: Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette (1 cup)

Eating Well: Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto (2 cups)

Epicurious: Sirloin Steak with Tomato and Cilantro Sauce (1 cup)

Simply Recipes: Mango Salsa (3 tablespoons)

YumSugar: Cilantro-Lime Rice (1/2 cup)


101 Cookbooks: Vibrant, Tasty Green Beans (1/3 cup)

All Recipes: Dill Gazpacho (1/4 cup)

All Recipes: Garlic Dill New Potatoes (1 tablespoon)

All Recipes: Maple Dill Carrots (1-1/2 tablespoons)

Cooking Light: Cucumber Soup (2 teaspoons & multiple sprigs)

Eating Well: Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill (3 tablespooons)

Eating Well: Lemon and Dill Chicken (2 tablespoons)

Farmgirl Fare: Beyond Easy Beer Bread (2 tablespoons)

Kitchen Parade: Lemon Asparagus Pasta (1/3 cup)

Recipe Girl: Red Pepper Confetti Asparagus (1/2 cup)

Slashfood: German Potato Salad with Fresh Dill (1/4 cup)

A Veggie Venture: Chard & Chickpeas with Feta (1/4 cup)


101 Cookbooks: Fresh Pea Salad (1 cup)
Note: ease up on the pumpkin seeds.

All Recipes: Mint Tea Punch (12 sprigs)

All Recipes: Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Onion Salad with Mint (1/2 cup)

CHG/Epicurious: Cranberry Relish with Grapefruit and Mint (2 tablespoons)

CHG: Limeade (1 medium bunch)

CHG/Mojito Company: Mojitos (6 leaves per drink)

CHG/Cook’s Illustrated: North African-Style Chickpea Salad (2 tablespoons)

Christine Cooks: Watermelon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad (1/4 cup)

Cooking Light: Chocolate-Mint Pudding (1/2 cup)

Cooking Light: Fresh English Pea Salad with Mint and Pecorino (1/4 cup)

Cooking Light: Peas and Pods (2 tablespoons)

Cooking with Amy: Zucchini Mint Soup (1/4 cup)

Eating Well: Minted Peas with Rice and Feta (1/4 cup)

Ellie Krieger: Shrimp Salad with Cucumber and Mint (1 cup)

Epicurious: Eggplant with Tomato-Mint Sauce and Goat Cheese (3 tablespoons)

Epicurious: Mango in Ginger and Mint Syrup (1/3 cup)

Epicurious: Mint Dressing (1/2 cup)

Epicurious: Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, and Mint (1/2 cup)

Israeli Kitchen: Pink Grapefruit-Mint Sorbet (1 cup)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Cannellini Beans in Mint Marinade (1/2 cup)

Noble Pig: Limoncello Lemonade (1/2 cup)

Once Upon a Feast: Blueberry Mint Granita (1/2 cup)

Smitten Kitchen: Broiled Eggplant with Capers and Mint (1/4 cup)
Note: cut olive oil a bit.


Cooking By the Seat of My Pants: Tomato Basil Soup with Zucchini, Bell Peppers, and Oregano (1/4 cup)

Gluten Free-Bay: Cabbage Salad with Lime and Fresh Oregano (3 tablespoons)

Epicurious: Herb-Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta (~3 tablespoons)

Ellie Krieger: Marinated Lamb Chops (2 tablespoons)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Marinated Garbanzo Beans (1/2 cup)


CHG: Curried Chickpeas and Black Beans (2/3 cup)

CHG/Ellie Krieger: Parsley Shallot Sauce (1/2 cup)

Delicious Dishings: Israeli Couscous with Parsley and Shallots (1/2 cup)

Eating Well: Parsley-Olive Relish (1/2 cup)

Fearless Kitchen: Fennel, Parsley and Caper Salad (1/4 cup)

Food for Life: Whole Wheat Linguine with Artichoke Hearts, Feta, and Pine Nuts
Note: use low-fat feta.

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Middle Eastern Bean Salad (1 cup)
Note: ease up just a little on the dressing for less fat.

Use Real Butter: Turkey Burgers (1/2 cup)


All Recipes: Black Olive and Rosemary Foccacia (~1/3 cup)

All Recipes: Roast Chicken with Rosemary (1/4 cup)

All Recipes: Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin (1/4 cup)

Eating Well: Pork Tenderloin with Mustard, Rosemary, & Apple Marinade (2 tablespoons)

Eating Well: Rosemary Red Wine Marinade (2 tablespoons)

Edible Therapy: Rosemary Lemonade (1 cup)

Epicurious: Garlic-Rosemary Roast Chicken (3 tablespoons & garnish)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions, Rosemary, and Parmesan (2 tablespoons)
Note: go a little easy on the oil and cheese.

Martha Stewart: Rosemary Balsamic Marinade (6 sprigs)

Orangette: Chickpea-Tomato Soup with Fresh Rosemary (2 sprigs)

Pink Bites: White Beans with Rosemary (2 tablespoons)

Simply Recipes: Rosemary Chicken Skewers (2 tablespoons)


All Recipes: Creamy Polenta with Roasted Corn and Fresh Sage (3 tablespoons)
Note: to keep fat down, use low-fat milk and cut a little of the olive oil

Andrea’s Recipes: Risotto with Onions and Sage (20 leaves)

CHG: Pumpkin Orzo with Sage (30 leaves)

Epicurious: Butternut Squash and Sage Soup with Sage Breadcrumbs (~2 tablespoons)

Green Lite Bites: Lemon Sage Chicken Packs (25 leaves)

The Kitchn: Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts (1/2 cup)
Note: cut the pine nuts by at least ¼ cup.

Whipped: Sweet Potatoes with Kale, Caramelized Red Onions, and Fresh Sage (1 tablespoon)

Yum Sugar: Sage Lady (3 leaves per drink)


101 Cookbooks: Baked Peas with Tarragon Yogurt and Pistachios (1/2 cup)

Alton Brown: Tarragon-Chive Vinegar (24 sprigs)

CHG/Kitchen Diaries: White Bean and Tarragon Soup (1/4 cup)

Eating Well: Lemon-Tarragon Bean Salad (1/4 cup + 4 sprigs)
Note: follow directions for salad only (not the fish).

Eating Well: Warm Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Tarragon (2 tablespoons)

Epicurious: Green Pea Soup with Tarragon and Pea Sprouts (3 tablespoons)

Epicurious: Carrot Soup With Orange and Tarragon (2 teaspoons plus sprigs)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Grilled Chicken with Tarragon-Mustard Marinade (2 tablespoons)
Note: the oil’s only in the marinade, so much of it won’t be consumed.

Simply Recipes: Chicken Salad with Tarragon (2 tablespoons)
Note: use low-fat mayo

Simply Recipes: Grilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon Sauce (3 tablespoons)


Andrea’s Recipes: Chicken with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Shallots, and Thyme (4 sprigs)
Note: ease up on the oil.

The Bitten Word: Raspberry-Thyme Smash (2 sprigs per drink)

CHG/Bobby Flay: Parmesan Crusted Portobello Mushrooms (2 tablespoons)

Cooking Light: Turkey-Mushroom Casserole (1-1/2 tablespoons)

Epicurious: Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes (1/3 cup)

Figs with Bri: Carrot Leek Soup with Fresh Thyme (2 tablespoons)

Joy the Baker: Honey Roasted Plums with Fresh Thyme and Greek Yogurt (1/2 cup)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon, Thyme, and Parmesan (2 tablespoons)

Martha Stewart: Thyme, Shallot and Lemon Marinade (16 sprigs)

Pinch My Salt: Sweet Potato Biscuits with Bacon and Thyme (1 heaping tablespoon)


All Recipes: Fresh Mint and Cilantro Melon Salad (3 T cilantro & 1/3 c mint)

Andrea’s Recipes: Parsley Cilantro Marinade and Dipping Sauce (1 c parsley & 1 c cilantro)

Dottie’s Weight Loss Zone: Creamy Herb Dressing (3 T dill & 1 T parsley)

Cooking Light: Catfish with Dill Sauce (1/2 c dill & ½ c parsley)

Cooking Light: Chicken Salad with Peas and Fresh Herb Vinaigrette (1/2 c parsley & 2 t thyme)

Cooking Light: Fusilli with Green Beans and Oregano (1/2 c parsley & 2 T oregano)

Cooking Light: Lemon-Herb Grilled Chicken, Corn on the Cob, and Onions (1 T oregano & 1 T rosemary)

Cooking Light: Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan (1 T parsley + 2 t thyme + 2 tarragon)

Cooking Light: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Thyme (1/4 c parsley & 2 t thyme)

DLife: Tilapia with Fresh Herbs and Lime (1/2 c parsley & 1 t rosemary & 1 t thyme)

Eating Well: Mint Pesto (1-1/2 c basil & ¾ c mint)

Eating Well: Parsley Tabbouleh (2 c parsley & ¼ c mint)

Ellie Krieger: Green Herb Dip (2 t thyme & 2 t mint & 1/3 c parsley)

Ellie Krieger: Tuscan Vegetable Soup (1 T each thyme & sage)

Epicurious: All Star Herb Salad (2 oz. each parsley, dill, tarragon, & mint)

Epicurious: Butter Lettuce and Radish Salad (1/2 cup assorted herbs)

Epicurious: Green Goddess Dressing (2 T dill & 2 T basil & 1 T mint)

Epicurious: Grilled Red Onions with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary (1-1/2 t rosemary & ½ cup parsley)

Epicurious: Spicy Cilantro Sauce (1/2 c parsley & ½ cup cilantro)

Fine Cooking: Grilled Pork Chops with Herb Rub (1 T sage & 1 T rosemary)

Fresh Catering: Fattoush (1/2 c parsley & ½ c mint)

A Fridge Full of Food: Chicken Noodle and Fresh Thyme Soup (1 T thyme & 2 t rosemary)

Garden of Eating: Cider-Glazed Delicata Sauce with Sage (1/4 c sage & 1 T rosemary)

Juan Carlos-Cruz: Herbed Zucchini Noodles (1 T each parsley, thyme, & oregano)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Chicken Soup with Oregano and Garbanzo Beans (2 T oregano & ½ c parsley)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Sage, Rosemary, and Garlic Dried Herb Rub (1 c rosemary & 3 c sage)

Kalyn’s Kitchen: Sausage and Basil Marinara (1/4 c oregano & ½ c basil)

Simply Recipes: Watermelon Salad with Feta (1/2 c mint & ½ c parsley)

A Veggie Venture: Lentil Salad with Tomatoes, Dill, and Basil (1/4 c dill & ¼ c basil)

Wasabi Bratwurst: Fresh Tarragon Salad Dressing (1/2 c parsley & 3 T tarragon & 1 t rosemary)

Readers ... any suggestions? What'd I miss?

(Photos courtesy of Iowa State University, Novel Eats, Grabbit, and Thrifty Fun.)

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Marcia said...

For cilantro:

I had a great basil-parsley-some other herb recipe from my CSA that was a dip/sauce thingy...alas, lost it.

Charity said...

This is fantastic - thank you! I often forget about fresh herbs I’ve purchased after I’ve used them only once, too.

One of my favorite of the CHG recipes is the Quinoa Soup with Avocado and Corn. Maybe the cilantro doesn't feature prominently enough to warrant its inclusion in this list, but I think it really makes the dish. :)

Sarah said...

Wow! This list is just incredible, and just what I needed. Thanks!

Pamela [BSD] - KNP said...

This may be the most useful post in the history of the internet. Wow.

Robyn 'My Middle Name Is Awesome' said...

Seriously, this list of recipes is freakin' awesome! I have the exact same problem with herbs. As I write this I have a half used container of fresh dill that I always buy to put in egg salad and then the rest always goes to waste!

I can't wait to try all of these delicious sounding recipes!!

Thanks, and no, I really don't think you missed anything, you pretty much covered it!

Alex said...

I don’t know if you have every played Kingdom of Loathing, but your unit of measurement reminded me of an update they posted recently:

A whole buttload of new ranged weapons have been added to various monsters and zones. (A standard buttload, not a metric buttload.)

So are you going by standard or metric?

LH said...

I concur with Pamela -- this is an extraordinarily useful post. I curse the supermarket for making those fresh herb packs because I fall for them every time. Thankfully, my rosemary plants and my volunteer chives require practically no attention, letting me cut a teeny-tiny amount for a recipe, but the basil went to flower/seed this past year. I'm going to try growing cilantro and sage this year. Seriously people, try either single or mixed herb container gardens.

Christina said...

This is such a great idea - I often have leftover herbs.

One idea that I have used is to make herb compound butter. You just chop up whatever herbs you have and mash them into room temperature butter (use about 3-4 tbs/stick). Then, using wax paper, roll into a log-ish form and wrap it up. Keep it in the fridge or freeze it for longer storage.

I know it's not necessarily healthy, but used in moderation it's great on bread, fish, chicken, pasta, etc...

Alanna @ Kitchen Parade said...

The best way to use up bits of fresh herbs is to just chop them up with your salad greens -- it'll turn a so-so salad into something spectacular.

Fumi - WasabiBratwurst said...

Thank you for the link love. This is a great list, must of taken a while to compile all of this. I am going to share with friends!

ktoth04 said...

This is an amazing post. I love it!

Adam said...

I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for something like this. OK, I can. FOREVER! Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

You are my best friend!

Marie said...

We were just ripping up cilantro and trimming down our herbs, so this is unbelievably valuable to use everything leftover before new plantings.!!

Kris said...

Alex, it is most definitely metric. Canada, ho!

Emily said...

WOW! Thank you so much. This is just a great list of recipes in general, but SO useful for all of those herbs that end up getting tossed. It pains me every time I find a container of dried up old herbs in the back of the fridge.

Clea said...

Woah-- this is an insanely helpful compilation of recipes! Just what I needed since I might try to grow my own herbs soon (well, buy starter plants anyway). Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Anonymous said...

My all-time favorite go-to potato salad, with tond of herbs:
(the rice vinegar makes it zippy, and you can put in just enough mayo to be creamy, not gloppy).

Also, easy spring rolls (make with peanut sauce on the side): rice paper wrappers + cooked rice noodles + leftover basil / cilantro / etc.

Jessie said...

Great list! Two more ideas -

Couscous Salad -
2 cups prepared couscous
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup basil
1/4 cup vinegar
2 T olive oil

Toss the couscous and veggies in a large bowl, set aside. Blend basil, vinegar and oil until basil is well chopped up and pour 1/2 of the dressing over couscous mixture, toss to coat. Add more dressing as desired.

And for dill - add it to borscht and other cabbage and veggie based stews. Soooo good.

KathyJ said...

Good lord I need to say it twice.
hHank you. This is absolutely inspired.

Carrie said...

great list! i always kind of fear buying fresh herbs because they only come in bunches much larger than i need. maybe this will make it easier.

oneeyethedrd said...

I haven't tried this, but it would make an interesting addition to the Parsley section (calls for 1 1/2 cups).

Rebecca said...

I've not tried this, but it sounds good and would use up a lot of parsley:

Kalyn said...

What an amazing list. Thanks for mentioning so many of my recipes.

One thing that people might like to know is that lots of herbs can be frozen. I have a few posts about that on my blog, but in general, "soft" herbs (parsley, basil, mint, oregano) freeze best when they're coarsely chopped and mixed with a bit of olive oil (to prevent darkening.) I freeze them in ice cube trays sometimes, then pop out the cubes and store in a zip-loc bag. "Hard" herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) can be frozen just on the stem in a plastic bag. For some herbs, the leaves will fall right off the stems once they're frozen.

I've been doing this for years, and it's completely changed my winter cooking.

Caroline said...

Awesome post! I am going to reference this again and again! Thank you!!!

Megan said...

Great list! And thanks for linking to me!

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Do you know how long I have been looking for something like this? I grow and sell herbs. This will be a good website to give to my customers. They will love you too!

Amy Green said...

This is a great resource - thank you! I had the same problem so my husband and I decided to grow a little herb garden. We don't have much space so we planted them in our front flower bed where the pansies used to be. It's probably a neighborly no-no but I love walking out front to clip fresh herbs.

Rebecca said...

Whenever we have leftover herbs I feed them to our two tortoises.

Since they are the reason we have an herb garden, it seems only fair. =P

jsun said...

Awesome list of recipes. I often forget as well about fresh herbs. I didn't even know you could freeze them. I am going to try the Lemon Sage Chicken Packs since i have an excess of sage. Sounds delish!

Stacie said...

Wow, just found this blog & this article & I'm totally taken with both - thanks!!
Food just ain't food without herbs..I'm a herby fiend & I couldn't even make it through the whole list (yet). Will definitely be comin' back..