Fresh Herbs are an awesome way to make your dishes pop with flavour. Dried herbs are amazing, but they just don’t have the same flavour as their fresh counterparts in your favorite recipes. There is something special about fresh herbs and and how they taste. Unfortunately they can sometimes be expensive to buy from the local grocers if they are not in season. Luckily you can enjoy fresh herbs and their exciting flavor all year long and you don’t need a botanical sized garden to do it.
If you really just want to grow a small selection of plants, or you are tight for space then you will want to be careful about your plant choices. To get the most bang for your buck you will want herbs that are easy to grow. You will also want to select versatile herbs that fit well with a wide range of recipes. To this end we have select four easy-to-gro culinary hers that can get you started.
Here are 4 Easy-to-Grow and Versatile Herbs
Basil is number one because it is so versatile and it is really easy to grow from seed. If you have a small pot and sunny space then you can easily grow ready to eat, fresh basil all year long. It is also great to grow from cuttings. Simply take a cutting of a branch and leave it in water and it will start to grow roots. This is faster than growing seeds, and you can have a small forest in no time.
After all, what could be better than delicious red tomatoes paired with fresh mozzarella and fresh-picked basil? Top with a balsamic reduction, some tasty extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and fresh-cracked pepper and youve got a delicious and easy lunch entrée or dinner salad.
Basil is also an essential ingredient in fresh pesto recipes and it pairs beautifully with tomato-based pasta sauces. (I love fresh basil in a spaghetti bolognaise sauce..) For a unique twist, add julienned basil and Brie cheese to sourdough bread for a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich. Oh.. and if If you want really want to get creative, plant a pot of purple basil to make a beautiful and delicious purple basil jelly.
2. Cilantro (Coriander).
This herb has two faces.. In Mexican cooking the fresh leaves (cilantro) of young plants are a staple. They are essential for making homemade salsas and add a unique flavour dimension to green salads. It can also be used in wonderful marinades for beef, chicken, pork and vegetables. Fajita’s are especially delicieous when the meat has been soaked in a cilantro marinade.
Cilantro is also very easy to grow from seed. You can extend the life of your plant by keeping it plucked down and keeping it in cooler areas. In spite of all your best efforts… eventually the plant will bolt to form lacy flowers that will leave seeds that can be harvested. Those seeds can be lightly toasted and ground down to create coriander, which is much more mellow in flavor than its fresh counterpart and is a nice complement to many recipes.
(I was confused for a long time about the difference between Coriander and Cilantro, so in case you missed it. Cilantro is the leaves, and Coriander is the seeds)
Just like the other two, Rosemary can also be started from seeds, but you may find it easier to pick up small plants from your local nursery/garden center in the spring. They can be brought indoors during winter, or colder months, but they need to be kept moist and have access to a sunny window, preferably with a southern exposure, * to keep them happy.
Not only is rosemary delicious in marinades for roasted chicken, pork, or beef, it also works it’s magic when added to roasted new potatoes and homemade bread.. (especailly focaccia). The wonderful earthy aroma delights the senses and tantalises the taste buds.
Rosemary is also a very pretty plant with decorative appeal. It adds structure to the herb garden with its elegant upright growth habit. Plus, it can easily be shaped to look like a Christmas tree. As a result, rosemary makes a lovely hostess gift around the holidays.
Finally.. we have thyme, another easy to grow classic herb. Fresh thyme is a staple in many types of cuisine and adds a distinctive flavor to meat-based dishes and is wonderful in stews and soups, as well. Lemon thyme is a unique treat that adds an unexpected hint of citrus flavor to your dishes.
One more thing to love about thyme is its beauty. It is ideal in pots next to taller herbs like rosemary because of it’s distinctive growth habit. It also can be used to edge walkways and paths to add a fragrant element to your landscape. Fair Warning though dont use those plants for cooking, especially if you have pets.
Without a doubt, these four easy-to-grow culinary herbs barely scratch the surface of what you can grow in a limited space. They are a great way to get started though and as all the the herbs listed here are easy to grow and can be found in a diverse range of recipes. You will not only enjoy growing them, youll love using them, too.
*Southern exposure in the Northern Hemisphere. (Northen exposure in the Southern Hemisphere)