I love to marinate. It packs a very flavorful punch. This recipe has the flexibility of allowing you to marinade your choice of protein for a couple of hours to several in the refrigerator, or freezing it until you are ready to make whatever delicious creation you are planning. I like being able to prepare a marinade when I come home from the grocery store, freeze X, and then thaw it a week or two later with the marinade all ready to go. What really works with this marinade is that I have never had anyone say they could not taste it, which is always a good thing; sometimes marinades can be a little subtle for my liking. I always like a burst of taste, especially when I am trying to keep calories low by omitting the marinade as a sauce.
“Traditional” Italian blends
This marinade features herbs to bring out my version of the “traditional” Italian blend of herbs that will pair well with many dishes.
I put traditional in quotes above because the Italian blend of herbs is “traditionally” used in America or I should say around the world, except in Italy, according to the article below. It features several different variations, but has a few core ingredients, many of which are featured in the recipe here. To read more about the origins and other common ingredients, as well as benefits, like aiding in digestion, of these herb combinations, check out Italian Seasoning: Flavors From All Over Italy In One Blend.
Whether you want to eat this alone, serve it with some simple sides like baked potato and steamed vegetables, or go all out with the related recipes below – this marinade will not disappoint. You can grill with it, bake with it, or saute with it – it works perfectly well being cooked in any of those ways. You will just want to brush off the excess or pat dry to make sure you do not have too many flames or burn the herbs.
While I generally do not use the marinade liquid for a sauce myself (see the nutritional label below for calorie counts), you are certainly able to make sauce of it if you like. Just be sure to cook it thoroughly if you are using marinade juices. As I noted above, the marinade leaves such a powerful flavor behind I have found I haven’t needed to do that so I save the calories.
When I saute, I find I just quickly deglaze the pan and the sauce is delicious. After you are done cooking just quickly reduce the heat and pour in a liquid of choice, a little wine, some water, a little broth, and vigorously scrape the bottom of the pan to get up and dissolve all of those delicious black bits. Viola! Your sauce is made with very few calories and not too much effort. What I then do is typically cook my vegetables in the sauce, or rewarm them if I have already steamed them up. It really makes for a delicious dinner.
If you are grilling, the marinade shines through, and the same for baking. I think you will be pleased. And either way, you will save on calories.
Now you have three fantastic ways to prepare your protein – how versatile it is already shaping up to be and we have not even talked about the ingredients or marinade time yet!
What’s in it?
Here we have a lot of ingredients for a marinade, but they are all worth it. Of course, if you do not have one on hand you can omit and I will not tell, but this recipe has served me well. I have never added marjoram to my version of this recipe but I know it is considered common in some of the “traditional” Italian blends, so I did want to mention it. I do not think it would hurt to experiment with adding that if you are a marjoram fan. I would add it in the same quantity of the rest. Perhaps I will experiment the next time I make this one and report back with my findings.
What to use it on?
I typically use this recipe for tofu or tempeh, but you should get creative. I could see this marinade working well with chickpeas, seitan, and even as a dressing – with the bay leaves removed. One great thing about this marinade is you can make it ahead of time and just let it sit in the refrigerator to develop flavor, or even freeze it. I’ve been known to have a little food storage container or two full of it in my freezer ready to go whenever I need it.
I hope you will come back to this recipe often and it becomes a mainstay in your cooking prep. If you end up liking or finding ways to improve upon it please comment below and let me know how you have used it in your kitchen, I am always interested in hearing from you about your experimenting!
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon basil dried
- 2 teaspoon oregano dried
- 2 teaspoon thyme dried
- 2 teaspoon rosemary dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Whisk together ingredients in a large bowl, place your protein in a freezer bag or large container, marinade in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Tip: dip the tablespoon in the oil and vinegar mixture first then pour in the honey, it’ll slide right off the spoon.
- You can freeze this marinade either with or without protein in it and pull it out to use later.
- You can make this marinade a day ahead of time if you need to, it will keep in the refrigerator.