Italian Herb Rub
This post written by our resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
I had been staring at a patch of sage in my garden for months. Each time I paused to admire their velvety leaves I was reminded of a recipe for an Italian herb rub in a rather old blog post on David Lebovitz’s site that would make such nice use of them. It was in the spring when my sage was just awakening from its winter slumber, that I bookmarked this simple recipe.
I knew it would be good, not because David lives in Paris and hobnobs about sampling all manner of gastronomical wonders, nor that he gets to drink coffee in Parisian cafés and chat about cooking with the likes of Dorie Greenspan, not even because he was Chez Panisse’s pastry chef for a good many years. No, I am not swayed that easily. I knew it would be delicious because David’s recipes always are, period.
A jar of this rub would also make a mighty fine gift that would be even easier than whipping up my usual booze balls that we will inevitably eat far too many of before any actual gift giving commences. But what really sealed the deal and forced me outside, pruners in hand, was a truly magical trick for peeling garlic in a snap that I had never, ever heard of before. Having worked in numerous kitchens with many different chefs, I was pretty skeptical that literally in seconds I could turn a full (or partial) head of garlic into a pile of perfectly intact whole cloves beautifully free of their papery skins. Even my chef friends were impressed.
Give the garlic bulb a firm smack with the palm of your hand to separate into individual cloves. Place them into a stainless steel bowl and invert a second bowl over the top. They don’t have to be identical in size, just close enough for the garlic to be able to bounce around in a good-sized sphere. Hold the bowls firmly together and shake as hard as you can for about 10 seconds. When you open the bowls, all of the cloves should be bare with the skins neatly out of the way. If they aren’t just shake a bit longer and voila!
With my new found garlic trick and a food processor, the herb rub was a snap to whip up and smelled heavenly as it dried. Closing my eyes and taking a big whiff I could imagine myself in an ancient stone kitchen perched high atop the hills of Tuscany; that alone is worth making this rub again. The herbs added depth and brightness to fresh pasta and when actually used as a rub enlivened the magic of a simple roast chicken. For a quick appetizer you could stir it into fromage blanc or swirl into a saucer of good olive oil alongside some crusty bread. And last weekend it was just the addition I was looking for in my Tuscan bean soup. If I can keep my fingers out of it, it might make some wonderful gifts, too.
Italian Herb Rub
1 very large bunch of fresh sage (should be two to three times as much as the rosemary)
2 – 3 small stems of rosemary
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 heaping tablespoon coarse sea salt or fleur de sel
Pick the leaves off the sage and rosemary stems. Place them in a food processor along with the garlic and salt. Chop until the mixture is fine and discard any large pieces of stem.
Spread the herb mixture on a baking sheet and let it dry at room temperature for about three days, stirring occasionally. Once dry, store your herb rub in a tightly-sealed in a jar.