Thursday, April 9, 2015

"h" is for herbs


I am really enjoying both growing and eating more fresh herbs than ever before. I put them in my smoothies, in my salads, I create dishes with them in mind. Here are some examples.


Nothing smells quite as great a fresh basil. It grows pretty easily (meaning that I don't often kill it in the first month or so). When summer is in full swing, I go out to my deck (where I grow stuff in containers) and pick some basil and some cherry tomatoes. Then, I open my fridge to one of my favorite splurges: fresh mozzarella. Not the stuff that comes in sticks and strings, not the lowfat-part-skim-low-flavor stuff, but the real white soft yummy mozzarella that I should be eating all the time (except that it's expensive!). So, I save it for just this treat: fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar. YUM!


I was surprised last year to find that parsley is pretty easy to grow, too. I kept two plants growing all season, and I would tear off the outermost branches whenever I felt like adding parsley to something. The cooking shows add chopped parsley to almost everything ,and I'm starting to try that concept with my food. I find that it adds a lovely freshness to most dishes. And, if you eat a sprig after dinner, then it freshens your breath and helps with digestion. Not the most delicious dessert, but it's interesting!


I've always wanted to try a watercress sandwich (like you might find in a English Tea). My only experience with watercress so far is a couple of sad bunches at either Fresh Market or Harris Teeter. Apparently, I haven't found growing season for watercress yet. But, even those sad bundles went well in my smoothies, and a variety of greens make for better health.


My mother is obsessed with cilantro. Whenever we eat at a Mexican restaurant, she orders extra cilantro. Her order is usually accompanied with a grin; maybe it's an inside joke I don't get. But, I have learned to love it in my homemade guacamole. I won't say it's a favorite herb, but in the interest of variety, it's pretty good!


The difference between fresh dill and dried dill is unbelievable. Those fresh fronds go wonderfully well with eggs, salads, and (of course) smoothies. Although it's taste is not for everyone, and it's rather strong in a smoothie, still dill is a thrill!


Chives were the first herb I ever grew that I didn't kill! So, I have a soft spot in my heart for these hearty little plants. I have even been known to divide my large plant and create new ones! If you're concerned about having a "black thumb", chives are a good first plant. The are the only "oniony" flavor that I like raw (I enjoy cooked or caramelized onions very much), and I eat them on potatoes of any sort.


Another great grower, I love the smell of thyme (although I confess that I don't use it very much). I grow it mostly for the carpet of tiny green leaves that smell fresh and woodsy and a little sweet. Any suggestions on how I might use thyme more often in my daily eats?


The firs time (thyme?) I really saw rosemary in all it's glory was on our first trip to Israel. Because it tends to be hot and dry there (at least in the southern part), they plant rosemary in the same way we plant boxwoods. They use it along their homes, in medians of streets, beside sidewalks, anywhere that needs a pretty plant and won't get much TLC. Rosemary is tough to kill, so long as it doesn't get too much water. I actually had a wonderful rosemary bush that I had planted in our NC red clay soil, and it did just fine for a few years. Then, we had a bunch of rain one spring, and it died. Rats. So, now I'm ready to have another rosemary that I'll keep in a pot, mix sand in the dirt, and forget to water it. Not only does rosemary smell divine, its blooms are pretty, too! And, I love to roast lamb with rosemary and garlic.

I really could go on and on about herbs, but you get the idea. Try some new ones for yourself; try growing them and then eating them. It's fun!


  1. Herbs are wonderful, aren't they? Sometimes just their scent is enough. Here in Greece, and probably other Mediterranean countries, non-culinary basil is grown in pots and presented as a gift. The leaves are much smaller than the basil you would use in cooking. People tend to place the pots by their doors or on window ledges and then just rub their hands through the plants as they go by. It releases a lovely scent. It's also meant to keep mosquitos away, but I'm not convinced it works.

    1. Love this idea, Mark! I'm going to plant some by my front door and dream of Greece...