Saturday, June 12, 2010


One of the most underrated culinary ingredients (except if you are a five star or celebrity chef) is the humble herb. Nothing can bring color, flavor and life to your dishes like fresh herbs! From the perfect garnish on a soup, to the main ingredient in an herb salad, herbs can provide you with a taste you can't duplicate anywhere else. While I always have a variety of dried herbs in the pantry, I absolutely love growing my own fresh herbs in the summer months up here. This year, I picked four of my favorites and an additional one that doesn't quite count as an herb but I use it for the same purposes anyway.

Hands down favorite: Basil

Uses: as a topper on pizza, to make my own pesto, to be the main ingredient in my chimichurri sauce, as a garnish on my chili and a thousand other preparations!!! The smell alone sends me into other realms of joy.

Second in line: Italian flat leaf parsley

Uses: so versatile in salads, as garnishes on just about anything, also used in my chimichurri sauce, toppers on lasagna, baked potatoes, bruschetta, etc...

Third up: Rosemary

Uses: as a flavor booster in numerous sauces, thrown in the pan to flavor tons of meat dishes (lamb, beef, chicken, pork), cooked with scrambled eggs, yum! This is a woodier herb and should be cooked rather than eaten plain like you can with basil and parsley.

Fourthly and not quite a herb: Onions

Uses: I trim the tops of these and use them like chives, since my fruit stand didn't have chives for sale when I bought these this year. I can use chives in just about anything: potatoes (any preparation), salads, meat, pasta dishes, rice, etc... I use the onion itself in a gazillion different ways, since almost everything I cook has onions in it!

Last but not least: Cilantro

Uses: GUACAMOLE!! What more needs to be said??? But also used in salsa, fajitas, a spicier version of bruschetta, salads, tacos and anything else that I think can use a little kick of powerful flavor!!

If you haven't grown your own herbs, you should try it! It's wonderful to be able to run out to my front porch, pick out the herb of my choice, wash it and put it in our meal. Yummy!

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