Herbs will take over your garden by midsummer even if you’re a novice gardener like me. You could even argue that there are too many herbs. The upside, however, is that you now have a problem. Got any basil? Prepare pesto. Parsley? With chimichurri and gremolata, it will become more than just a garnish. And in the Caribbean, green seasoning is the norm.
Green seasoning, a blend of fresh herbs, is a staple in Eastern Caribbean cuisine and is especially popular in Trinidadian and other island kitchens. Herbs are grown in Paramin, a village in northern Trinidad, where temperatures are slightly more temperate. The French brought chives, thyme, and parsley to Trinidad, while the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and Central and South America introduced culantro (also known as shado beni, bhandania, recao, and ngo gai). Green seasoning is a lot like the sofrito and epis used in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
How to make green seasoning:
As many cooks as there are, there are countless variations on the classic green seasoning, but here’s a simple recipe for about a cup’s worth. Add 1 small chopped onion, 12 cup of thyme leaves, 12 cup of parsley leaves, 12 cup of chopped chives, and 12 cup of chopped culantro to a blender. It’s up to you how much garlic you put in, but I recommend at least four. Puree with white vinegar (1 tbsp) and water (2 to 4 tbsp) to achieve the desired consistency. My preferred texture is chunky, like pesto; however, it can be blended smooth and thinned with more vinegar and/or water to have the consistency of hot sauce.
There is no end to the culinary possibilities afforded by green seasoning. Start with two tablespoons for a recipe that serves four to six people; in Trinidad and the neighboring islands, it is used to season and marinate meat and fish for stews and curries. It’s great as a marinade for tofu; in couscous, rice, or other cooked grains; as a quick dressing for salads and roasted vegetables; or as an extra punch of flavor in beans or soup. Green seasoning is great for adding a herbal, citrusy, and garlicky kick to any dish.
Refrigerating a batch of green seasoning will keep it fresh for up to five days, but freezing it in ice cube trays and transferring the cubes to freezer bags will extend its shelf life considerably.
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