Herbed Butters

Last year, I posted about preserving herbs from the garden in oil – basil oil, common pesto, and my four herb mix. This year, I’m exploring the use of butter. Below I’ve given recipes for a trio of flavoured butters that work well for me. What I have discovered is that some herbs have an affinity to olive oil (such as basil, oregano and mint) and others do well with butter (such as sage and parsley). I suspect it has something to do with the dishes I make with these condiments. I use basil oil and my four herb mix (which includes oregano and mint) primarily for salads and marinades, and additives to (mainly) tomato-based soups and sauces.

Melted sage butter, on the other hand, is a stand-alone flavouring for pasta, particularly cheese filled ravioli or tortellini. It is also a natural for use with poultry. The chive, parsley and lemon butter is perfect for a ‘garlic’ bread (without the garlic). It is also delicious melted on a number of vegetables (particularly steamed carrots, boiled or baked potatoes and sautéed beans) or with fish. The tomato/thyme butter is good in simple risottos and pastas as well as with roast meats (particularly beef).

The butters, once blended, can be frozen in ‘logs’. The amounts listed below under each recipe are the equivalent of one ‘log’ – each 1/3 of a 500g block of butter. It is convenient to pre-slice them so that segments can be broken off without defrosting the entire log. Only small amounts are required at any one time. They keep for months in the freezer.

Simple Sage Butter
This is my go-to solution for a simple pasta sauce. I now have it convenient in the freezer for use during the winter months when the sage plant in the garden is in hibernation.

  • Approximately 20 to 25 large leaves of Sage
  • 166g Butter

Soften the butter slightly. Meanwhile clean and finely chop the sage leaves. Blend the two together until well and evenly mixed. Form into a log on greaseproof paper. Wrap and chill before cutting the log into segments with a sharp knife. Re-wrap and place in a plastic sealable bag or plastic storage box. Store in the freezer for future use.

Chive, Parsley & Lemon Butter
Similar to the butter used for garlic bread, but without the garlic (for those of you on a FODMAP diet or those who cannot digest garlic). Try it with a little parmesan.

  • Small handful of Flat-leaf Parsley, finely chopped (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Chives, finely chopped
  • Optional: Zest from 1 lemon, approximately 1 Tablespoon finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 166g Butter

Finely chop the parsley, chives and the optional lemon zest. Combine these with the black pepper in a bowl. Make sure the butter is softened, then add to the herb mixture and blend until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Form into a log, wrap and chill before cutting the log into segments with a sharp knife. Store in the freezer.

Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Thyme Butter
A good way to use up the excess cherry tomatoes from the garden.

  • 150g Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chilli pepper flakes, optional
  • 166g Butter

First, the cherry tomatoes must be roasted. Cut in half and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Bake at 200 degrees C for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and scrape into a bowl and let cool. Meanwhile, soften the butter to room temperature. When the tomatoes are cool, blend them in a food processor and add the thyme and chilli pepper flakes. Mash this with softened butter and form into a log. Chill the log and then cut into pieces. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a plastic bag or tupperware in the freezer.

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