Produce and herbs are in their peak during the summer months and I plan to fully take advantage of it! I look forward to the aroma of basil fresh picked from the garden and the earthy smell of thyme leaves. Herbs are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications. It can be surprising just how many recipes you can liven up with a handful of freshly chopped herbs.
During the winter months I shell out the several dollars per ounce for the pre-package cut herbs that pretend to be freshly plucked from the earth. But in the summer….FORGET IT! It is extremely easy to grow and harvest your own herbs; all you need is a small pot, some soil, and a little love. There is one simple rule that I follow when it comes to growing herbs: the more you use the more you will grow. This is especially true of thyme and basil; two of my absolute favorites.
This summer I used the small plot of land in front of my porch to plant my herbs since I don’t have the room for a large garden. If you have a patio or a balcony just use small pots. I begin my picking the herbs that I love to use most; my list includes chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Use some organic soil and bury the roots so that the plant stands up straight; the more delicate herbs have a tendency to want to droop. One tip I have for my fellow herb growers is water either in the early morning or at dusk to prevent the water/sun combination from scorching the delicate leaves.
Here are some suggestions on how to use your fresh herbs!
- Mix chopped farmers market tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste for a delicious summer side dish (add chopped bread cubes or arugula for a salad)
- Add whole leaves to panninis or sprinkle on pizza
- Use to make a delicious fresh pesto (make extra for the freezer)
- Try them thinly chopped and added to scrambled eggs or omelettes
- Add on top of enchiladas or mix in guacamole for a delicate onion flavor
- Sprinkle on pasta salad for a bright green confetti
- Pairs perfectly with any flavor quiche
- Add to marinades for meat or seafood
- Add whole sprigs of thyme to soups or stews; the leaves will fall off and you can fish out the stems when you are ready to serve!
- Add chopped rosemary and sliced garlic to potatoes and roast in the oven until crisp
- The earthy flavor lends well to roasted meat and stews
- Use rosemary stems (without the leaves) to skewer vegetables or meat for grilling
- Extremely versatile; use as a finishing herb sprinkle to almost any meal
- Adds freshness to pasta with fresh vegetables, olive oil, and garlic
- Mix into beef or turkey burgers for a twist
- I also like to substitute parsley for cilantro because to me cilantro tastes like soap (I am one of those extremely unlucky people!)
Use any of these ideas or message me some of your favorite ways to use these herbs; I am always looking for new ideas! Happy summer gardening; may you enjoy all your fresh picked produce and reap their delicious benefits!