This post is part of a Gourmet Garden promotion. I was not paid to write it, but I was sent free products.
I've been wanting to take part in a cooking-blogging challenge for a while. And my wish has come true! Earlier this week, I was couriered an esky (chilly-bin for those in New Zealand!) full of Gourmet Garden herbs so I could take part in the Blog Off/Cook Off. I received five tubes of herbs and they came in a cute reusable chiller bag. I received tubes of hot chilli, basil, garlic, coriander, thyme and thai herbs.
First up, on a weeknight, I made a pasta, inspired by the prettiest blogger ever VeggieMama. It was a quick and cheap meal, and I had the stapled in my fridge and pantry already.
I started by chopping up a capsicum, some spinach and four big field mushrooms.
The mushrooms were cut thickly and I drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt over them. I squirted some of the Gourmet Garden garlic onto them too, and placed them in the oven for around 20 minutes.
While the mushrooms were baking, I boiled some pasta - fusilli - and fried the capsicum in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. When the mushrooms were done, I took them out of the oven and put them in the pan. I whisked up half a cup of chicken stock and added this and a drizzle of cream plus the spinach to the pan. I reduced the stock, shaved some lemon rind and added a tablespoon each of the Gourmet Garden thyme and hot chilli to the pan. I added the drained pasta and cooked gently on low heat for a few more minutes.
I seasoned with salt and pepper, added some fresh parmesan, and there you go! Easy vegetarian pasta!
Next up - another vegetarian meal. Mushroom soup - oyster, cloud, shitake and brown, with Gourmet Garden garlic, basil and butter. Love it. A really hearty and warming soup for a Saturday night. Perfect with a glass of wine and some left over pizza!
My grocer had packs of mushrooms on sale. I love different mushrooms, and I especially love the way they go gelatinous when boiled. I picked up oyster, cloud and shitake mushrooms, and had some field mushrooms left over in the fridge.
I used about half of each pack, plus one big field mushroom, and cut them roughly. Mushrooms are quite pretty, they are so delicate and detailed.
I put the mushrooms in one of my favourite ceramic pots, filled it with around a litre of water, and added some stock powder (I should have made my own stock, I know!). I also added a tablespoon each of Gourmet Garden garlic and basil, and a small slice of butter (maybe 25 grams?). I boiled the soup on medium heat for around 40 minutes.
It turned out so tasty and a little creamy from the butter. The umami flavour that mushrooms have make the stock so incredibly intense. You should make it!
Edit - you can use whatever stock you want, vegetarian, chicken or beef - I happened to use chicken as that is what I had on hand, and I am an omnivore.
My verdict on Gourmet Garden herbs: I liked the convenience of them. I was quite busy and sore this week, so it was good to be able to make quick and nutritious meals. It was good not having to wash and de-leaf fiddly herbs, but I don't mind doing that either.The Gourmet Garden herbs add good flavour to meals, but probably not as intense as fresh herbs. I don't often buy fresh herbs because I forget to use them, and they are quite expensive. And then I end up with wilted herbs in the bottom of the vegetable crisper. I do use dried herbs and spices a lot. However, I noticed that Gourmet Garden's herbs do have additives and preservatives, which I am not keen on. I don't feel so bad because I cook with mostly whole foods, but I would prefer less additives and preservatives.
I really want to try the Gourmet Garden herbs on meat to see how the flavour holds. I'll report back soon.
Thanks Gourmet Garden for having me in the challenge, and for the herbs!
You can view more information about the Blog Off/Cook Off on the Gourmet Garden website.