Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Every Herb Ever in This Delicious Salad

by 
Brooke Siem
July 27, 2021

I pluck off a few mint leaves or strip a single sprig of sage off its herbaceous blades. And the rest goes in the fridge, to await its death next to a container of crusty old mustard.  

Really, how many recipes call for an entire bunch of sage? A few leaves give cold-weather recipes a woodsy warmth, but add too much and it’s like gnawing on a Christmas tree. And who has ever successfully used up an enormous bunch of mint? Unless I’m making an enormous batch of mojitos, most of the time, I don’t use more than a dozen leaves before regulating the bunch to the herb graveyard. 

But perhaps there is a better way. The culinary arts treat herbs as an added detail, an ingredient intended to enhance, but not overpower, the main components. Aside from the pesto and the occasional parsley salad, herbs rarely get the chance to shine as the main ingredient, especially in their raw form. 

And so, as an ode to all the fresh herbs I’ve abandoned over the years, I decided to create a dish that would celebrate the distinct complexity of every herb ever.

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Well, almost every herb ever. To present the herbs in their most fresh and pure form, they need to be eaten as a salad. A few herbs simply don’t lend themselves to raw consumption. Rosemary and bay leaves, most notably, are tough and unpleasant to chew. They also have long shelf lives. Some fridge-dried rosemary is an acceptable substitute for fresh, so I find it doesn’t end up in the bin with the frequency of more tender herbs. 

Cilantro, too, gets the axe here. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat raw, but it’s too controversial to introduce into the mix. For every one person who loves cilantro, there’s someone with a genetic variation that causes them to perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves. Better to leave it out than to serve a salad with Dawn accents. 

Any combination of any other herb, though, is fair game. Simply strip off the leaves of herbs with tough stems (thyme, basil, oregano, sage, marjoram, savory) and chop up herbs with soft stems (parsley, chervil, tarragon, dill) and toss them into a big bowl. Bulk it up with a little tender lettuce.

Though the herbs are the star of this dish, it is the signature dressing that bridges all the herbs together. I knew I needed a dressing that would hit all the flavor receptors of the tongue and could stand up to the variety of herbaceous flavors without overpowering the herbs themselves. I settled on a caper-raisin vinaigrette bulked up with anchovies and freshly made garlic oil, and it does the job magically. 

Topped with fried garlic chips and toasted pine nuts, this “(almost) every herb ever” salad is a symphony of salty, crunchy, umami, sweet goodness that will change your relationship with fresh herbs — and save them from a pitiful refrigerated fate. 

(Almost) Every Herb Ever Salad

 | 
Total cook time including cooling: 30 minutes
 | 
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the caper-raisin dressing

1/2 c golden raisins

1/3 c apple cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

¼ cup capers, drained

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have it)

3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil



For the salad

A few handfuls of Fifth Season Bridge City Blend

1/4 cup pine nuts

2-4 garlic cloves


Any combination, in generous amounts, of the following herbs: 

Basil

Chervil

Chives

Dill

Marjoram

Mint

Oregano

Parsley

Sage

Savory

Tarragon

Thyme

Do not use rosemary, bay leaves, or cilantro — unless you’re sure everyone at the table actually likes cilantro.

Keep in mind that this recipe is highly adaptable, and should be guided by the herbs you like, and like together. Experiment and figure out what you love!

 | 
Total cook time including cooling: 30 minutes
 | 
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the caper-raisin dressing

1/2 c golden raisins

1/3 c apple cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

¼ cup capers, drained

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have it)

3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil



For the salad

A few handfuls of Fifth Season Bridge City Blend

1/4 cup pine nuts

2-4 garlic cloves


Any combination, in generous amounts, of the following herbs: 

Basil

Chervil

Chives

Dill

Marjoram

Mint

Oregano

Parsley

Sage

Savory

Tarragon

Thyme

Do not use rosemary, bay leaves, or cilantro — unless you’re sure everyone at the table actually likes cilantro.

Keep in mind that this recipe is highly adaptable, and should be guided by the herbs you like, and like together. Experiment and figure out what you love!

Ingredients

For the caper-raisin dressing

1/2 c golden raisins

1/3 c apple cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

¼ cup capers, drained

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have it)

3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil



For the salad

A few handfuls of Fifth Season Bridge City Blend

1/4 cup pine nuts

2-4 garlic cloves


Any combination, in generous amounts, of the following herbs: 

Basil

Chervil

Chives

Dill

Marjoram

Mint

Oregano

Parsley

Sage

Savory

Tarragon

Thyme

Do not use rosemary, bay leaves, or cilantro — unless you’re sure everyone at the table actually likes cilantro.

Keep in mind that this recipe is highly adaptable, and should be guided by the herbs you like, and like together. Experiment and figure out what you love!

Directions

For the caper-raisin vinaigrette

1. Combine the raisins, apple cider vinegar, honey, and capers in a small saucepan and place it over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then immediately turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, use a sharp knife or a mandolin to carefully slice your garlic cloves into pieces no more than 1-2mm thick. Line a plate with a few paper towels and set aside. 

3. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. (If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot. It should look thin and shimmery. If you want to test the heat, place a single garlic slice in the oil. It should bubble gently, not violently, and take a good 45-60 seconds to brown.) 

4. Add the garlic slices and pine nuts to the pan and let them fry until golden, stirring constantly, about 45-60 seconds. When they’re all golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and let them drain on the paper-towel lined plate. Immediately turn off the heat and transfer the olive oil into a heat-proof container and put it in the refrigerator to cool down. 

5. When the raisins are plump and the oil has cooled enough to touch, add the caper-raisin mixture to the bowl of a food processor along with the anchovy fillets and oil. Pulse the mixture until it forms a paste. Set aside. 


For the salad

1. Add all the herbs to a large bowl, chopping up any large leaves and removing tough stems as necessary. The stems of soft herbs like parsley, tarragon, chervil, and dill can be chopped fine and eaten. Hearty stems from thyme, basil, oregano, sage, marjoram, basil, and savory should be discarded. If you’re not sure, simply cut a piece of stem and taste it. If it’s unpleasant to chew, don’t add it to your salad. 

2. Just before serving, add a few handfuls of lettuce to the bowl and toss everything together with the caper-raisin dressing. Divide the salad onto serving plates and garnish with a generous amount of pine nuts and fried garlic chips. 

Note: If prepping the salad ahead of time, keep the prepared herbs fresh by keeping them in the refrigerator, covered with a wet paper towel. Do not dress the salad until just before serving. 

About the Author

Brooke Siem

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