I work in a school and when the question of academic honesty – aka cheating – comes up I almost always say something to the effect of, “if you have to ask if it is cheating, it probably is.”. So when I was grocery shopping this week, and found myself asking if the puree of herbs is cheating (as I picked up the parsley since the last three plants I picked up have died on me) I have to conclude that it most likely is indeed cheating.
But in this one case, let me make the argument for cheating. I use very little ginger and almost always find it, when looking for it whole, in a large root. I almost never find it in smaller sizes just due to the nature of the item. Cilantro may last for a week, but I never use the entire bunch, and the parsley, well, it seems to be my doomed herb. Val can’t grow mint, I can’t grow parsley. The last time it didn’t die of natural causes, Leia ate the entire plant. The chili pepper is really more of a convenience than anything else; I can control the spice amount much better than I can with fresh and when cooking for a range of spice tolerances, that is important. I can store the purée for about six months and in that time, I almost always use the entire bottle. When I buy truly fresh parsley, ginger and cilantro, I almost always throw half of it away. Cilantro and parsley I will still buy in the raw form when I make something that requires a lot of it (the disaster of the falafel comes to mind) but otherwise, I cheat, and use the purée – especially if I am going to blend it into something like a dressing or marinade anyway. So while, yes, it is cheating, I am going the way of the has grill on this one. The original is definitely better (charcoal grill kicks gas grill butt for flavor) but the convenience and lack of waste (both time, item and money) makes the short cut (gas grill and the puréed herb) the better bet for everyday use.
Feel free to disagree with me, but here are a few things I made this week using said cheating herbs.
My version of Italian Wedding Soup. Purée of chili went into this one to give it a little kick without overwhelming the dish. Bob liked it so much he texted me at lunch Tuesday to tell me how much he liked it. Made my day too.
Carrot salad; purée of ginger went into the seasoning for this. Gave it a very nice crisp taste that I could not get without a little ginger. But I didn’t need enough to but a whole root.
Grilled summer vegetables. A little of each went into the marinade for the veggies, and for the pork that accompanied the dish.
Besides, when I use the already cut up and puréed version, I have more time to herd cats and rescue lizards.
I kill herbs, too. Can’t seem to keep any plants alive. I’ve used the pureed cilantro and it was good — it just doesn’t last super long. I’d buy it again.
I probably go through that one the fastest. About one or two months and I’m out again.