Dried herbs are convenient and even preferred over fresh in some applications. But there are times when only fresh will do. Yes, it’s wonderful that we can buy those little packets of fresh herbs at the grocery store, but it isn’t very cost effective.
The four fresh herbs I use most frequently are ones it really pays to grow myself.
- Basil: A chiffonade of basil strewn atop my homemade pizza takes it to another level; imagine how it could benefit takeout pizza! Then, of course, there’s pesto—a natural for summer entertaining.
- Cilantro: The piercing flavor of cilantro is a must in salsas and Mexican cuisine. And nothing can shake up a salad quite like a handful of cilantro leaves.
- Dill: Few herbs make so beautiful a garnish as the lacy foliage of dill, and when you grow your own you can afford to use it lavishly. One of my favorite applications is lining a deviled egg platter. The tangy flavor complements eggs, fish, chicken, lamb, potatoes and all sorts of vegetables.
- Parsley: Flat-leaf Italian parsley adds excellent flavor to many dishes and is the go-to garnish of cooks everywhere. Chewing the chlorophyll-laden leaves after a meal reportedly eradicates onion and garlic breath!
Novice gardeners will find herbs the perfect introduction to gardening. Herbs can be grown indoors or out, in containers or in the ground. My own essential herb garden is in a four-foot square raised bed located in an area of full sun.
Whether on a windowsill or in the garden, it’s easy to snip off as much as you need whenever you need it. The more you harvest from an herb plant, the more it will produce.