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Farm Fresh: Let's start the growing season with herbs

Thursday, June 01, 2000

Tested by Betsy Kline

Welcome to Farm Fresh, PG Food's seasonal column devoted to fresh fruits and vegetables and all the good things found at farmers' markets, farm stands and produce counters across the region.

The early run of warm days means we'll be seeing the first blush of berry season earlier than usual, but right now what you'll find at the markets are mostly bedding plants and starter plants of herbs and vegetables.

Herbs are hard to resist. A single small plant can be prolific if routinely harvested, so don't be shy about pinching those delicious leaves. Most herbs require little fuss beyond an occasional watering, a few hours of sunlight and good drainage, which makes them perfect for beginning gardeners.

To get you started, today we offer a fresh, no-cook pasta sauce from one of our favorite summertime cookbooks, "No-Cook Pasta Sauces" by Joie Warner. Don't even think of substituting dried herbs for this one -- it just won't be the same.

Herb Garden Sauce

Fresh and refreshing, this no-cook pasta sauce clings to just about any size and shape of pasta, so have fun with it!

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (French thyme will do if you can't find lemon thyme)
12 ounces linguine

Combine olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese in pasta serving bowl. Set aside to warm to room temperature, or, preferably, place the bowl (be sure it's heat proof) over the pasta pot to warm the ingredients and melt the butter while heating the water. Once the water comes to a boil, remove bowl and set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta well and immediately add to sauce in bowl. Sprinkle with the basil, parsley, mint, chive and thyme and toss. Serve at once with extra Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

"No-Cook Pasta Sauces" by Joie Warner

If you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured, please call food editor Suzanne Martinson at 412-263-1760 or e-mail us at aburnett@post-gazette.com. or bkline@post-gazette.com. We're also looking for easy-to-make, quick recipes that highlight the fabulous flavors of fresh produce. Send to Farm Fresh, PG Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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