Nothing completes a dish like adding in just the right combination of herbs and spices. But if you're cooking for one and/or cooking on a budget, dinner can fall flat because you don't want to spend money on ingredients that will turn brown before you can use them. Never fear - I've got the secret to using herbs and spices when you're cooking for one and watching your wallet.
We've all been there. You see "parsley" on an ingredient list and groan - do you really need to buy a whole bunch of parsley for this one little recipe? You need like one leaf for your shrimp scampi. For the record, I try to mark when a spice or herb is optional in a recipe here on the blog, or suggest some more common substitutions - and I note when it really makes or breaks the dish (as you can probably guess, Coconut Lemongrass Salmon really just isn't the same without the lemongrass). Even when you're cooking for more than one person, there's rarely a recipe that uses a whole bunch of herbs. What are you supposed to do with the small parsley tree leftover? Do you skip the herbs altogether or splurge on something you'll use 1/20th of before it goes brown and slimy in the back of the fridge?
The solution to this dilemma comes in simple and inexpensive plastic tubes: Gourmet Garden Stir-In Herb & Spice Pastes. Or, as I like to call it, squeezable flavor. Gourmet Garden has a line of 12 flavorful herb and spice pastes that allow you to always have the right flavors on hand to create delicious and easy meals. Flavors range from the basics (like basil and garlic) to more exciting (like lemongrass and ginger) to all-purpose (like the Italian Herb blend and Thai seasoning blend). I love that the pastes have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Hey, they save you time on chopping, too! The best part for the money-savvy and small-quantity chef (that's you!) is that the pastes last a full three months in the fridge *even after opening* (!) and they only come in 4 oz. tubes, so you'll definitely be able to get through one before it goes bad. To use, simply squeeze into a dish, taste, and adjust to your personal preferences - just like when cooking with fresh herbs! They pack much more flavor than dried herbs and can replace both dried and fresh herbs and spices in recipes. Pro-tip: They're all gluten-free.
In terms of price, you'll definitely get your money's worth because you won't be buying fresh herbs for just one recipe or throwing away unused herbs that have gone bad. Plus, you can often find a deal, like the 2 for $7 I found at Stop & Shop when I stealthily went in to take pictures of the herb display with my DSLR camera...yep, the things I do for food. Sure, it's not as cheap as leaving the herbs out or using dried, but I'm trying to strike a balance between delicious and budget-conscious on the Millennial Menu, and Gourmet Garden hits the spot.
Wondering what to make? The Stir-In Pastes work in just about anything - sauces, soups, marinades, dressings, stir fry, pasta, and more. Personally, I always have Parsley and Lemongrass tubes in my fridge. Parsley for shrimp scampi (a Millennial Staple meal in my house) and lemongrass for recipes like Salmon in Coconut Lemongrass broth and lemongrass shrimp over coconut rice. Subscribe to the blog to get access to these recipes in a future post. Garlic can go in just about anything you want to make. Ginger is delicious on salmon and in stir fry. The Gourmet Garden website has a great Recipe archive where you can browse by herb - check it out!
Note: this is NOT a sponsored post. I just love my squeeze tubes and think they're a must-have in any millennial kitchen.