May bounced into life. Glorious sunny days, trees are a hundred shades of green, and the swifts have returned, soaring higher than high. And the best bit ? I get to see it all from the perfect peace of The Hundred House herb garden. Sometimes I think I have the best job in the world.
Of course it’s not all wafting around through apple blossom, at least not for head gardener Denise Purnell. This is the beginning one of the busiest times for a gardener, nurturing seeds, preparing beds and generally making sure that the stunning range of home grown ingredients available at The Hundred House is as abundant as ever. You’ve heard of field to fork and gate to plate? This garden is literally steps from the kitchen. Steps. No wonder I can’t stop dreaming about the Salsa Verde.
So, what’s here today? I can almost hear the seedlings growing, as the days get longer and the temperature inches up. Denise is getting ready to pot on, harden off, and eventually plant out. The range is incredible, way beyond the slightly depressed looking pots of green I see in the supermarket.
I love Basil, it makes the simplest dish taste of holidays and sunshine. Cinnamon Basil was new to me, and it turns out it’s a bit of a wonder herb. It repels all sorts of nasties from precious tomato plants, keeps you safe from pesky mosquitoes,and tastes utterly divine in Goat’s cheese pesto or as a subtle flavour in a shortbread.
I’m more familiar with these two fellows. So much more than a whimsical garnish, these two feature at so many stages in so many dishes; sometimes so subtle you barely notice, but you’d notice if it wasn’t there. Herbs give so much they are worthy of being the main event, especially when they’re so wonderfully fresh.
Now, remember that Salsa Verde ? Here’s a little bonus recipe for you to try tonight. It’s gorgeous with pretty much everything, but especially with barbecued meats, chicken or just over new potatoes.
Hundred House Salsa Verde
2 Tbsp Capers
1Tbsp Lemon juice
150ml Virgin olive oil
1.Puree all ingredients together
2.Add handful of parsley and any other sweet herbs available, e.g.rocket
3.Taste to make sure it is not bitter – if it is then add more lemon and olive oil.
There you are, a little bit of Hundred House magic in your own kitchen. I can’t wait to come and see what’s growing over the next few weeks !