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December 05, 2016

What to Do With Leftover Herbs: Our Favorite Ways to Use Them Up

Herb salad with tuna avocado and radishes

A recipe calls for just a few teaspoons of cilantro or a single sprig of parsley. You bought a whole bunch. What now?

It’s a timeless question: what to do with leftover herbs? Luckily, there are tons of uses for those beautiful, flavorful, often expensive greens rather than tossing them in the compost. Instead, here are a few of our favorite ways to repurpose leftover herbs. Your wallet and your tastebuds will thank you.

Freeze them

Chop up leftover herbs as though you’re about to use them in a recipe (remove stems if needed). Measure out 1 tablespoon and press these into an ice cube tray. Cover each scoop of herbs with olive oil or boiling water, then transfer to the freezer. Once frozen, you can store in a container for ready-to-cook flavor packets for future recipes. You may wish to leave yourself a note labeling the quantity in each cube (ie. 1 tbsp basil) so you can easily use the right amount when the time comes.

Homemade pesto or vinaigrette

One of our favorite uses for extra greens is to mash them into a delicious pesto. Simply combine in a blender with olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts and a touch of salt. You can also blend it with olive oil and vinegar to craft your own dressing. It’ll store for weeks in the fridge (and your salads will be so happy).

Infused water

Spice up a pitcher of water with some fresh sprigs of mint or lemongrass. Simply drop into a pitcher of water with ice, then stir and let the whole thing steep for at least half an hour to really get the flavors going.

Make an herb butter

Cream finely chopped herbs – especially oregano, basil or chives – in a dish of softened butter. Store this mixture in the fridge in a covered container. It’ll keep for weeks and make everything from garlic bread to steamed veggies extra yummy.

Use herbs like lettuce

Herbs are leafy greens, much like lettuce and kale! Use them as a base for a fresh salad, pairing them with a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing, tomatoes and your favorite soft cheese. A little drizzle of balsamic goes a long way on this, too!

Did you know? PlateJoy meal plans pair recipes smartly to use reduce food waste. Start creating your custom meal plan.

- Amy Height

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