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Herbs to the Rescue

Chives and Oregano in my garden. They both come back year after year with total neglect from me (other than cutting back the oregano each winter).

Herbs are always at or near the top of the home gardening lists that tell you what things are most economical to grow yourself, i.e. where your gardening efforts will result in the most savings in your grocery budget. Those bunches of herbs in plastic clamshells are expensive and rarely very fresh.

I started with a few parsley starts about 8 years ago. I let a few go to seed every year (they are biennials though so they have two seasons before the go to seed) which keeps me in new seedlings so I always have plenty of parsley--one of the most versatile herbs.

In addition to saving $$ many any of them grow with the most minimal care and attention and some do well from seed so your up-front costs are truly minimal. They can grow in pots on your window sill, deck, porch, fire escape. . . and of course in any free spot in the ground. And they are delicious, nutritious and can make most any staple, from eggs, to grains, beans, veggies and meats, sing.

Having just returned from a trip my refrigerator was fairly bare this morning and I needed to make lunch for my husband to take to work and for myself at home. And since I am a bit bean-crazed or as a neighbor noted yesterday, the bean queen, I was able to pull together a decent lunch thanks to the parsley and oregano in the backyard. I had thawed a container of white beans when I returned yesterday so I had those. I chopped up a few handfuls of parsley and oregano, added some lemon zest, juice, chili flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I mixed that with the beans and filled some whole wheat tortillas with that on a bed of grated sharp cheddar.

Quesadilla with white beans, herbs and sharp cheddar, aka impromptu, filling lunch.

I do realize I’ve been emphasizing greens and beans of one sort or another here for a while but in this in-between season of sorts, before the summer squash and tomatoes, beans, peppers and corn surface, they’ve been keeping me good company.

I’ve also been working on an upcoming class on salad rolls that is one of the most fantastic uses of herbs I know. Rather than the sideshow, they are the main attraction in salad rolls, even edging out that peanut sauce. There’s still plenty of room in that class if you’re interested in learning how to make this simple delicacy.

Mint might be the most prolific herb and is best grown in a pot since it can take over any garden. Mint features prominently in the upcoming Salad Roll class on June 25th.

The herbs I grow and love to cook with most are: parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, tarragon and rosemary (actually  my neighbor has the giant rosemary bush) and cilantro, though it bolts easily and has a shorter season than the rest and you have to keep seeding it so it’s actually probably easier to buy.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’d love to see more posts on how you’re using mint. I have some in a pot that I’ve had for a couple of years… but I never end up using it! Which is fine because it is pretty but…

    May 24, 2011
    • I will definitely do so in the future Jess and in the meantime here are a couple of ideas. All last summer I made fruit salads (any fruit really from apples, berries, melons to stone fruit) with lots of chopped mint, lemon juice and a little honey or sugar. Also, you can chop mint and cilantro and add it to rice you’ve cooked with a bit of ground cumin and coriander and top with some Greek yogurt.

      May 24, 2011
  2. Adriane D. #

    Hi Katherine,

    My mom created a garden for me this year for Mother’s Day, with little Owen’s help, of course. We just bought chives, mint, arugula, basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme to add to the few plants in there already. I see from your post that I should put mint in a pot by itself. Can everything else go in the garden or is there anything else that needs to be “separated from the rest of the class.” 🙂

    P.S. I’ve been looking for garlic shoots since they were so delicious in class but can’t find them anywhere. Are they pretty much gone this time of year?


    May 24, 2011
    • Hi Adriane, That’s wonderful that you have a garden now. And no, nothing else needs to be isolated:). I’ve seen bunches of green garlic at the farmers markets recently but we are getting toward the end of that season. You might plant a few cloves in your garden in the fall for next spring but might be out of luck until then. Have fun with your greens!

      May 24, 2011
  3. I always enjoy my visits here, and was very happy the day I found your blog. You have a particular creativity that is appealing to me (and so many others!). Thanks for what you do, I will visit again, I learn something each time I do.

    May 28, 2011
    • Thank you for your lovely note Melynda. So glad you enjoy the posts. Do keep visiting!

      May 28, 2011
  4. Joyce M. #

    Do you use spearmint for the mint in your recipes?

    November 25, 2011

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