So, we arrived back on the weekend after two weeks down the coast and this is what the herb garden looked like. More Amazonian jungle than Randwick raised bed: towering, flowering chives; parsley that has long since bolted for home; mint with leaves like elephant’s ears; basil stalks the girth of babies' forearms.
Most of what’s there was too leggy, woody or otherwise manky to use, so I plucked all the best, most delicate top leaves, threw some in a salad (with finely sliced fennel, watercress and rocket and very nice it was) and thought about what to do with the rest.
There wasn’t enough of any one herb to make, for example, a pesto, so I bunged the lot in a food processor with some garlic, a few cornichons and some supermarket mayo, gave it a whizz and it turned into quite a creditable sauce. Pretty, delicately green, with a bit of bite from the cornichons and a non-specific herbaceous quality that makes it a likely partner for all sorts of things from boiled baby potatoes to salmon to a marinated, split chook on the barby (which I happened to be testing for this week’s home-delivery menu – do feel free to check it out. No pressure). Plonk a grilled chook on the table and it doesn’t look like you’ve gone to a big effort; but now pair it with a 30-second green mayo and you’ve really pushed the boat out.
It’s a useful little accompaniment to have up your sleeve because it can be varied indefinitely to use all the half packets of herbs lurking at the bottom of the fridge (soft herbs like parsley, chervil, tarragon, coriander, basil, chives and mint rather than hard herbs like bay or rosemary though) and if you don’t happen to have cornichons or gherkins in the house, you could throw in a few capers, green olives or even a couple of anchovies, though they may muddy the colour a bit.
We've all got ways to jazz up supermarket mayo - what's your best one?
Negligent gardener’s green mayo recipe
Serves 4 with a barbecued chook
2 cloves garlic
4 cornichons (small gherkins)
Big handful of mixed soft herbs, plucked
4 heaped tablespoons (about 100ml) good-quality store-bought mayo
10ml lemon juice (or to taste)
In a small food processor bowl, chop the garlic, cornichons and herbs till finely processed. Add the mayo, give it another couple of pulses. Taste and add some lemon juice and a bit more of any of the other ingredients if you feel it needs it.