By Laina Carter of McGrail Vineyards & Winery
This week we were super excited to be providing all of our SIP Club members with herbs from the Calhoun family ranch (my family’s ranch) here in Livermore! A lot of these herbs are wild, but can be found literally on the side of the road or near local creek beds. If you’ve ever had a Coyote Smash at Range Life, you’ve probably already had these herbs unknowingly, as my aunt Nancy is the one who sells them to Range Life for this specific cocktail, as well as for other uses, I’m sure. We included them with this week’s SIP package, so members could create an herbs de Provence seasoning to make one of the following recipes to pair with the Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon at home!
To create this seasoning, you will need the following fresh ingredients:
- 1-2 bay laurel leaves (Laurus nobilis)
- 1-3 stems of rosemary
- 1-4 stems of fennel
- 1-5 stems of sagebrush (Artemisia californica)
- 1-2 leaves of common sage
- 1-3 chives
- 2 sprigs of Portuguese lavender
- French lavender sprigs and flowers
- Oregano sprigs
- Mint sprigs
If you have any of the following fresh herbs or seeds at home, please feel free to add them to your bag of herbs to dry and ultimately use in your herbs de Provence seasoning:
- Italian parsley leaves
- Thyme leaves
- Basil leaves
- Summer savory leaves
- Fennel seeds
- Celery seeds
- Tarragon leaves
- Chervil leaves
If you have any of the aforementioned herbs or seeds at home that have already been dried, they may be added to the dry seasoning, as well.
Before preparing your herbs to dry, we highly encourage you to wash them, but to take extra care when doing so.
- Bay leaves: These are heartier plants than the other herbs and can just be rinsed with water or washed by using a produce wash to clean them.
- Lavender: When washing the lavender sprigs and flowers, take extra care to not lose the buds, as these are the most important part of the flower. If the buds do fall off the sprigs, make sure to hold onto them. We recommend removing the stems and using a mesh strainer to wash the flowers and/or buds. Wash the lavender flowers or buds by running them through water.
- The remaining herbs are somewhat fragile and special care should be taken when washing them. They can be washed by rinsing them under cold water. It’s important to try not to crush the herbs when washing them, as this can cause them to lose their flavor.
If possible, remove the stems of the rosemary, mint, fennel, bay leaves, common sage, oregano, sagebrush, and pineapple sage, after washing and before allowing them to dry, as this will allow the leaves to dry out faster.
Once your herbs have been washed, they should be prepared to dry. Put your herbs in a new, paper bag with holes or in a clean, plastic bin with holes in it and place them in a warm, dry area of your home.
Once your herbs are dry or almost dry, you will prepare them to use in your herbs de Provence seasoning.
You will use:
- 1-3 bay leaves (we recommend using a smaller portion of bay leaves because they can be very pungent and overpower some of the other herbs)
- All rosemary, fennel, sagebrush, common sage, oregano, mint, and pineapple sage leaves
- All chives
- All lavender buds
The exact portion of each herb you use doesn’t really matter, unless you’d like to replicate your recipe later. Play around with each herb and see which you find most appealing to your palate, then add more of that to your herbs de Provence.
Remove the stems of the bay leaves, rosemary, fennel, sagebrush, lavender sprigs, oregano sprigs, mint sprigs, and pineapple sage sprigs. Dispose of the stems.
- Put the remaining bay leaves in an airtight container to use for future cooking. Use within a year for maximum flavor.
Grind the bay leaves as fine as you possibly can. These leaves are very stiff and can be unpleasant to ingest when they are not finely ground.
- If you do not own a grinder, use clean, dry hands to crunch up the leaves into small pieces. You may want to remove the spines of the leaves, as these tend to be the stiffest parts.
Next, grind the rosemary, fennel, sagebrush, common sage, chives, oregano, mint, and pineapple sage. Mix well with the ground bay leaves.
Mix lavender buds with your herb mixture.
Store your herbs de Provence seasoning in an airtight container in a warm, dry area of your home. Use within six months for maximal flavor.
Here are three delicious ways to enjoy your herbs de Provence seasoning at home:
Herbs de Provence Seasoned-Steak and McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 tbsp. herbs de Provence
- 2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 16 oz. rib eye or New York steaks
- In a small bowl, combine herbs de Provence, freshly cracked pepper, kosher salt, minced garlic, and olive oil. Mix well to create a paste.
- Rub each steak evenly on both sides with the seasoning mixture.
- Allow steaks to sit with seasoning for 30 minutes or until they reach room temperature.
- Pre-heat grill on medium-high.
- Grill steaks for about five to six minutes on each side for a medium-rare doneness. Grill for longer if you prefer a medium or well-done steak.
- Enjoy steak with a bottle of McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon!
Fresh Vegan Herb Mushroom Tomato Pasta
- 8 oz. uncooked pasta (linguine, spaghetti, or angel hair)
- 4 tbsp. olive oil or vegan butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced into small pieces
- 8 oz. fresh mini heirloom tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tsp. herbs de Provence
- 1 tbsp. McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon
- 4 oz. vegan mozzarella (Miyoko’s VeganMozz is preferable)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions
- Heat olive oil or vegan butter over medium heat. Brown minced garlic in vegan butter.
- Add mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs de Provence. Continue to cook over medium heat.
- Add red wine and allow it to cook long enough to evaporate.
- When mushrooms and tomatoes have been cooked through, add VeganMozz and allow to melt slightly.
- In a large pasta bowl, add pasta, mushroom and tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Enjoy this pasta with a deliciously balanced McGrail Cabernet Sauvignon, like our Austin James.
Herbs de Provence Bread Dipping Oil
- 2 ½ tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. herbs de Provence
- 1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
- Bread for dipping
- Heat ½ tbsp. olive oil in a small frying pan. Brown minced garlic.
- In a small bowl, combine browned garlic, herbs de Provence, parmesan, freshly cracked pepper, kosher salt, aged balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Mix well.
- Use any kind of fresh bread to enjoy with dip, just don’t forget your glass of Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon!