Janet's Notebook
Fresh Herbs Pack Powerful Summertime Punch

Robin Hearon's Fresh Fruit Salad

Summer’s beautiful bounty is upon us… now what to do with it all?! My herb garden is overflowing, and I’m constantly on the hunt for nifty new ways to make use of all these green goodies. Often the unsung heroes of the kitchen, I love to use herbs to transform simple ingredients into eye-popping, clean-your-plate favorites.

Club member Robin Hearon of Las Vegas, NV knows a thing or two about wrangling fresh flavors for maximum impact. Her Fresh Fruit Salad is laced with a confetti of fresh mint and basil. The unlikely pairing of herbs adds loads of flavor and makes for quite the colorful presentation!

"This is a wonderful and refreshing side dish that is perfect for any summer occasion," says Robin. "The mint and basil gives this simple dish a very tasty and pleasant surprise."

Cilantro, on the other hand, is Shannon Smith’s secret weapon. The Franklin, TN cook’s recipe for Fiesta Rice Salad transforms easily accessible ingredients like black beans, brown rice and peppers into a fresh and healthy salad, perfect for a hot afternoon pick-me-up. Ole!

Now, no matter how hard I try, sometimes I just can't cook fast enough to keep up with all the garden goodness. Don’t worry; just chill out, is Donna Brown's motto. She recently shared with us her technique for preserving the fresh flavor of basil; chop it, cover in extra virgin olive oil, seal tightly and freeze for year-round use!

I look forward to trying this method with other herbs as well. Have any of you had any luck with other preservation methods?

Now go on and get fresh! There are delicious summer dishes just waiting to be discovered. Feel free to lick your plates…. I won’t tell. Just be sure to leave the pattern behind.

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M L - Aug 2, 2010
Hi Julianne, you can send a note to help@justapinch.com!
Julianne sILCOX - Jul 31, 2010
I have question about upgrading how do I get in touch with someone to answer my question?
Lois Bragg - Jul 26, 2010
PS. for the Camp Casserole... drain the green beans and corn before putting in the pan. OOPS I forgot that and salt and pepper the potatoes.
Lois Bragg - Jul 26, 2010
We like a camp casserole. It starts with a can of corn and can of green beans in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, layer peeled sliced raw potato and a diced onion on that. Last layer a pound of raw ground chuck or round (I use a pound a half if the boys are here). Put 2 cans of cream of celery soup over the ground beef. Cover with foil and bake 50 min. or till bubbly hot and burger browned, Uncover for another 15 min and finish! I have done this over an open fire as well in an iron skillet with foil or lid. (oven at 350-375 F)
SUE CALESTINI - Jul 25, 2010
We are going camping with a large group and I need help with camping recipes. Something I can put together at home to help to make it easier.
Fran Steele - Jul 25, 2010
I need a recipe for fig preserves. Does anyone have one? Plus I found three cake recipes for chocolate cakes here and I have made two of them. They have been such a hit now all my kids (they are grown) and grandkids are begging for more! I love that I have found this website.
Rose O'Connell - Jul 23, 2010
We really enjoy the herb garden-the woody ones (rosemary and thyme) we get to enjoy all year round. But the watery one basil, parsley etc. we get the most of while they are growing. But I recently saw the Freezing Basil recipe from Donna Brown. This is one I am going to try. What could be better than almost fresh basil in the dead of winter?
NADINE REID - Jul 21, 2010
I haven't got a herb garden, but there is a great farmers market nearby and this weekend I am going to be looking for all the fresh herbs you mention in this column. It's like a treasure hunt!