Let’s talk about fresh herbs.
I like them, I really do, but are they worth it?
They’re always sold in big bunches that I can’t finish before they go bad. I’ve heard about freezing them, and I’ve bought basil that was potted before—but I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that they will still go to waste.
If I need rosemary today I may not need it tomorrow, or the next day…or the next week. That’s why I’m attracted to dried herbs; they’re low maintenance and honestly, they don’t taste that much different.
Do you use fresh or dried herbs? What are your secrets to keeping fresh herbs longer?
I got the most beautiful herbs from a chef the other day. Unfortunately, I’m so scared they’ll go bad before I find a good use for them! Two of the herbs I know by heart: thyme and mint. The other two…not so much: lemon balm and shiso. The lemon balm smells faintly of citrus and, well, lemons. Shiso is a large leaf, purpley Asian herb that is also known as “beefsteak plant”. Cheeky.
Shiso is usually used in cold dishes: salads, sandwiches and cold noodle plates. Lemon balm can be made for warm or cold dishes. I’m excited to use them both, and I hope and pray I can get around to them before the mold sets in.
Now, onto food: Pea Penne Pasta. Do you like the name’s alliteration? I thought that up the other day and couldn’t shake the name. I loved it—and I loved this dish!
Peas taste so good right now, and there’s nothing better than a heartwarming casserole. Add in a homemade alfredo-dijon sauce, some diced chicken tenderloins, and voila! A creamy, spring dinner for the whole family. I’m drooling just writing about this casserole…
Pea Penne Pasta
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 5 TBS. butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (both white and green parts)
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- 1 lb. chicken tenderloins, cooked & cubed
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta for 8 minutes or until a little under al dente. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and green onions cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking while adding. Whisking constantly, cook sauce until it thickens—about 5-8 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Add in both cheeses (Parmesan and Mozzarella), reserving 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in Dijon, basil, parsley, and lemon zest. Add penne pasta, cooked chicken and peas. Stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Top with walnuts.
- Bake for 25 minutes until cheese melts and casserole is bubbly.
The pasta was cooked perfectly. If you ever make a baked pasta dish, undercook the pasta just for a bit. That way it won’t get all floppy once you bake it.
The garlic-y, green onion-y alfredo sauce was really good, too. It made the whole casserole come together and complemented the peas and chicken well!