Though supermarkets carry herbs and spices in convenient, appropriately sized containers, the containers normally cost more than what goes into them.

I usually refill my herb and spice containers at an outlet which sells them in bulk. Although you save money this way, be careful. If the store does not have a rapid turnover, the herbs and spices will become stale in a few weeks. Buy from a busy store that keeps them away from bright lights in small, sealed containers.

You might also get fresh herbs from your supermarket, a green-grocers, or your own garden.

Generous use of herbs makes a wheat-free, dairy-free meal a delight. Start with the licorice flavor of cream of tarragon. Parsley sauce over new potatoes accompanied by tomatoes and thyme is a terrific main course. Finish with a peach salad.

Remove tomato and peach skins by dipping them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then into cold water.

Molded Peach Salad

  • 2 quarts
  • 20 minutes preparation
  • 1 hour cooling

Unlike gelatine (an animal product), agar agar is made from a mineral- rich sea vegetable. It will set at room temperature, so it won’t sag when brought out on a warm summer day. Unlike gelatine, which won’t set properly with raw pineapple, figs, papaya and kiwi, agar can be used with any raw fruits. But because setting ability has not been standardized from brand to brand, you may want to vary quantities of agar slightly.

  • 1 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsps. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsps. powdered agar, ( 3/8 cup flakes or 10gm stick)
  • 4 cups sliced peaches, most skins removed
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Put water, honey, lemon juice, and agar in a saucepan. On low heat, slowly bring to a simmer. Wipe an attractively shaped mold with vegetable oil. Meanwhile, slice the peaches.

When agar has dissolved, strain it into a bowl and let cool. When it is no longer hot to the touch, toss peaches and mint into a mixing bowl, then place in mold. Pour the warm agar mixture over fruit. Cool, undisturbed, in the refrigerator until set. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cream Of Tarragon

  • 4 servings
  • 15 minutes preparation
  • 15 minutes simmering

Tofu makes this creamy soup both dairy-free and wheat-free.

  • 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 3 bunches green onions, white part sliced
  • 1 small white turnip, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tbsp. chopped celery leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine or apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 250gm tofu
  • 2 tsps. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white peppercorns

Slowly fry green onions and turnip in oil. When the onions are clear, stir in tarragon and celery. When leaves have turned green, add wine, salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cover. When turnip is tender (about 15 minutes) put into a blender or food processor with tofu, lemon juice and pepper. Spin until smooth. Reheat, but do not let it boil. Serve with tarragon leaves for garnish.

Tomatoes And Thyme

  • 4 servings
  • 5 minutes preparation
  • 30 minutes marinating

Fresh basil is terrific with tomatoes, but it can be overused. Lemon thyme gives a special touch.

  • 3 large tomatoes, skins removed
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsps. thyme leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • Grind black pepper

Cut tomatoes in 3/8-inch vertical slices – this keeps the flesh juicier. Spread out on a platter and sprinkle on oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Let marinate 30 minutes.

Just before serving, tip up one side of the platter to drain off excess juice.

Parsley Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups
  • 10 minutes preparation
  • 10 minutes roasting

Roasted hazelnuts cut the sometimes strong flavor of parsley. For the creamiest flavor, use the flat-leaved Italian parsley.

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 cups chopped parsley leaves
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F.

Put hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly then rub nuts in a damp cloth to remove loose skins.

Put nuts, chopped parsley, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor. Spin until blended smooth. Stir in a little hot potato or pasta water to thin before serving over boiled potatoes or favorite pasta.