Top 5 Herbs for Aspiring Chefs
Hurrah! It’s summer! Windows fly open and thoughts turn from indoors to out. For many of us, this includes getting a little dirt under the fingernails and putting our green thumbs to work. If you love to cook like we do, one of the first things you’ll want to grow are some fresh herbs.
Fortunately, you don’t need a large backyard garden to enjoy fresh herbs. In fact, you can be just as successful if you only have a small pot on a window sill or a balcony. There is no better way to give all your kitchen creations a zing and a zip than the unique flavor that only fresh herbs can bring. From roasts, to sides, to salads, and even drinks, here’s a short list of our must-have, favorite herbs to grow at home.
- Basil – Easily at the top of everyone’s list. No Italian dish seems to be complete without a few fragrant leaves. Used in roasts, soups, sauces, and is a crucial component in one of life’s most simple pleasures, the caprese salad. If you’re looking for a twist on an old favorite, try planting some Thai basil which has a lot of the same flavor, with a slight hint of spice.
- Chives – Many chefs would argue this should be at the top of your list. A member of the onion family, the taste is similar but more subdued. The thin stalks can be diced up for a kick of fresh flavor on just about any savory dish. Using the long leaves whole is a classic garnish that gives a slightly sophisticated look.
- Rosemary – A bushy herb whose fragrant, needle-like leaves can resemble a small pine tree, but actually a member of the mint family. Works wonderfully with a wide range of meals, including fish, chicken, lamb, and works well to tame the taste of wild game. This is one that you’ll want to purchase as a seedling from your local garden center, as it’s slow to germinate from seeds.
- Dill – Less appreciated than many, but and herb for which you’ll find more and more uses as you learn how its flavor can play against others. The sharp and slightly bitter taste works well in soups, with poultry, and in just about every soup. Sprinkle on boiled and diced “young” potatoes, or on thinly sliced and salted cucumbers for simple side salad.
- Mint – Peppermint, spearmint, or whichever you prefer, mint is likely one of the most versatile herbs as it can go either savory or sweet! Add a leaf to a fresh batch or raspberries or garnish an ice cream dish. Steep in boiling water to brew up some mint tea to sooth a tummy ache. Muddle with rum and lime juice for a classic summertime cocktail, the Mojito!