Exploring a Farmer’s Market in Santa Cruz, California, last week, I came upon a farm stand selling a variety of herbs, but those not as popular as the basil, parsley and oregano found in most households. I was in my glory! I love herbs. They do so much to impart flavor to recipes and make any dish seem special.
Lemon Verbena and Epazote are two of my favorites. I discovered Lemon Verbena years ago at a quaint, New York City restaurant located in the heart of Gramercy Park. It was called Verbena, and while the restaurant is no longer, the memory of the chef’s Lemon Verbena custard is as vivid as ever…
Epazote, in contrast, is wonderful for main dishes like fish, and my vegetarian friends love it when I add a few chopped leaves to black beans and rice. While you might not have heard of Epazote, you’ve certainly eaten it; it’s commonly used in Mexican chile sauces and authentic salsa. You can find it in a Mexican grocer, or order it online.
In terms of nutrition, most herbs are rich in minerals, don’t contain calories (and if that, just a few), and they’re often a source of vitamin C.
Certainly, you don’t need to be a foodie to appreciate herbs. You just need a little curiosity!
And last but unrelated to herbs, I wanted to share another find I made while in Santa Cruz. It’s the River Caf頦#038; Cheese Shop on River Street. Open Tuesday – Sunday serving breakfast and lunch, it’s a charming venue to stop in during a drive on Highway 1. They even have cooking classes, if you plan to be in the area for more than a day. I found their artisan cheeses wonderful, but their wide variety of seasonal and organic food will surely please just about anyone.