Ingredient of the Week: Herbs

Sage (c)2011

Though fall is just around the corner the days are still hot and the garden continues to produce. My herb garden grows wild and the more I pick the more it produces. This week at, we celebrate the essence of summer- fresh herbs. Heat loving herbs like basil, rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, sage and mint are still thriving in late summer. It would be a pity to let the season pass you by without taking a moment to appreciate the role herbs play in everyday cooking. Herbs are potent and aromatic. They come in many different textures, from the soft, delicate leaves of basil to woody stems of prickly rosemary to fuzzy sage. Their scent can be delicate and floral, pungent and musky, medicinal, fresh, or even savory. Some tender herbs are best enjoyed without exposure to heat, while robust varieties soften and mellow with cooking.


This Past Week at La Domestique: Melons

Melon (c)2011

This past week at La Domestique was devoted to the sweet, juicy melons of late summer and early fall. On a recent shopping trip at the grocery store I saw at least 6 varieties of melon. Here in Colorado, farmers are growing heirlooms and hybrids- it’s a great opportunity to try something new! As for using them in the kitchen, melons pair beautifully with late summer produce like chili peppers, limes, herbs, and figs. Eating a perfectly ripe melon is a feast for all your senses- the overwhelming musky aroma, juicy flesh, and gorgeous colors. Don’t let the season pass you by without exploring melons in all their many varieties.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you!

Monday:  Announcing melons as the ingredient of the week plus I’ve got a new weekly column every Tuesday on the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website. This week I shared a recipe for Grilled Shrimp and Melon Salad.


Stuffed Peppers with Melon Salsa

Right now I’m completely enthralled by the gorgeous red chili peppers from New Mexico. When I saw the mountain of peppers at the grocery store, I thought they would be perfect for melon week: heat plus sweet is a beautiful combination. An idea for Stuffed Peppers with Melon Salsa popped into my head. It feels like I’m in a grilling frenzy, trying to enjoy summer as the season fades into fall. I decided to stuff the peppers with grilled chicken and goat cheese, then grill the peppers. Oh yes I did.  So very, very good.

Grilling chicken is tricky. Too often it’s dry and charred and not nice at all. I like to grill the whole chicken leg, bone-in and skin-on. The bones and skin keep the meat moist and tender, not to mention flavorful. Get the grill nice and hot, but once the chicken is on turn the heat down to medium-low. It’s going to take about twenty minutes for the chicken legs to cook, and you don’t want to have the heat so high that the meat gets dried out.


Storyboard: Melons

Words used to describe melons include perfumed, juicy, succulent, voluptuous, sweet, and honey flavored. A melon is one of the most sensual and tactile fruits. Smell the heady fragrance, touch the rough netted or smooth skin, taste the juicy flesh. Don’t let the summer pass you by without enjoying this beautiful fruit. If you’ve only eaten watermelon, it’s time to try something new. You’re in for a treat, as there are more varieties in grocery stores and farmers markets than ever before!

Classifying Melons

Melons come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They are part of the gourd family (like pumpkins) as evidenced by their tough skin and numerous seeds. Melons grow on a vine that creeps over the ground and takes up a lot of space. They require a long season of warm, sunny days to produce fruit and can be harvested from late summer to early fall. According to The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, there are two species of vines that produce melons. Watermelons come from one species and the other species produces European cantaloupe, muskmelon, and winter melon.


Cook in the Moment: Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt, and Pistachio

Sometimes the simplest pleasure is the greatest luxury. A perfectly ripe, heavily perfumed melon with syrupy sweet nectar is something to appreciate. Have you ever tried the Charentais melon? It’s a cantaloupe from France with a reputation as the crème de la crème of melons. My good friend Carolyn brought me a Charentais from our local farmers market recently- what a gift! Its skin was smooth and pale green with beige undertones and dark green vertical stripes. I could easily hold the Charentais in the palm of my hand. It didn’t take long for a sweet, heady fragrance to fill the kitchen. Such a lovely piece of fruit deserves a starring role at the breakfast table.

Slice the Charentais melon in half and you’ll find brilliant orange flesh dripping with juice. In the recipe Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt, and Pistachio I’ve scooped out the seeds and filled the melon with a Middle Eastern inspired mixture. The quick-cooking quinoa is infused with cinnamon, cardamom, and orange flower water then spooned into the center of the Charentais melon. Top with a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of crushed pistachio and mint, and finish with a drizzle of honey.