What we would miss from summer without fresh basil in your pistou (Pesto’s French cousin) or garden fresh red potatoes with butter and dill? Whether you choose to use a lot or a little, fresh herbs can elevate your favorite dishes to new dimensions with their infusion of exceptional aromas and flavors. Not only do fresh herbs provide more intensity of flavor, you will receive more health-promoting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when they are fresh. All you need is a small area in your yard or if that is not a possibility simply pick up planters and grow on your porch. Not up for growing your own? Shop at your local Farmer’s markets.
Basil - A little taste of the Mediterranean in your own back yard! This quintessential herb of summer is like the marriage of anise and cloves. Once you pick fresh basil from your garden you are forever endeared to its fragrant tones. Basil adds flavor sensation to Asian and Italian dishes, curries, soups and more. Aside from its rich source of antioxidants including vitamin A, basil provides a source of potassium and magnesium which help with regulating blood pressure. Prepare your own fresh pesto or pistou, add chopped basil atop soups or try infusing your own oil. Try a variation of basil this year such as Thai basil or lemon basil.
Oregano - Watch your oregano grow…year after year! If you have space in your garden, consider planting oregano. Oregano has long been recognized for its nutritional and disease-fighting properties. Oregano contains thymol which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Oregano is also a perennial and you will be delighted as you “see how your garden grows” year after year with even more abundance and beauty.
Parsley – Parsley is one of our most well-known herbs and its versatility makes it a must for your herb garden this year. Parsley is an excellent source of antioxidants vitamin A and C and vitamin K and folate. There are two types of parsley, Italian and Curly. Italian, also called flat leaf, has a more fragrant flavor and is customarily used in dishes from soups, meats and casseroles. Curly parsley is most used as a garnish. A little chopped parsley atop your favorite appetizer can add immense aesthetic appeal and flavor.
Thyme – Thyme is very popular in European cooking and can complement virtually any dish from meat, poultry, fish, soups and vegetables. Fresh or dried thyme is also a sensational addition to your own homemade herbal tea. Among fresh herbs thyme ranks as the highest in antioxidant levels and contains antiseptic and antifungal properties. Thyme has an intense flavor so a little bit will go a long way. French thyme is the most commonly used form of thyme; however, there is also lemon, caraway or wild thyme to choose from.
Dill – Dill imparts a distinctively sweet, anise-like flavor that is sure to stand out in your cooking this summer. In addition to its rich source of antioxidants and minerals, dill contains pyridoxine and niacin which can help with management of cholesterol levels. From salmon burgers to Mediterranean salad, with fresh dill you are sure to please your heart and your guests.