Herbes salées, or fresh herbs and vegetables preserved in salt, are a traditional Quebec seasoning or condiment. The salty, flavorful combination of fresh herbs is often used to season soups, particularly pea soup in French Canada, but they can also be used to season sauces, stews, dressings, or any meal that inspires you. There is no universal or "official" recipe for herbes salées across the region. In fact, the ingredients may vary by family tradition or simply by what the home cook has on hand that day. This recipe is the perfect excuse for planting your own herb garden to have fresh, and salted, herbs year-round!
While herbes salées are extremely easy to make, be sure to plan ahead to account for the refrigeration time. The herbs must be allowed to sit and infuse in the cold refrigerator for about two weeks before they are ready to use.
- 1 cup chives (fresh, chopped)
- 1 cup savory (fresh, chopped)
- 1 cup parsley (fresh, chopped)
- 1 cup chervil (fresh, chopped)
- 1 cup carrots (grated)
- 1 cup celery leaves (chopped)
- 1 cup green onions (chopped)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup coarse salt
Layer 1 inch of herb mixture in the bottom of a crock or glass bowl and sprinkle with some of the salt.
Repeat layers until all of the herb mixture and salt is used.
Cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Drain off accumulated liquid and pack herb mixture into sterilized jars.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Many claim that their herbes salées keep for up to a year in the refrigerator.
Cook's Note: Perhaps the most important thing for this recipe is the use of fresh herbs. Dried herbs are not only not a good substitute, but they will not preserve in the salt and release their flavor and moisture as fresh herbs do. In fact, using fresh herbs is more important than the herbs themselves. Try a mixture of the herbs you have in your garden or are available at your grocery store or farmer's market. You can try adding, fresh oregano, onion, shallots or even leeks, spinach, and swiss chard. You may be amazed at the combinations you can create with a little imagination.
Author's Note: "Herbs preserved with vegetables and salt make a lively seasoning for soups-particularly pea soup - sauces, stews and omelettes. A commercial brand, Les Herbes Salees du bas du fleuve, is marketed by J.Y. Roy of St. Flavie, Quebec. This recipe comes from the Metis district." - Chef Julian Armstrong
Recipe Source: A Taste of Quebec by Julian Armstrong (Hippocrene Books)
Reprinted with permission.