This week's tip was written by our U of U nutrition intern, Allison Schneggenburger.
Fresh herbs add depth and flavor to ordinary dishes, making everything you cook extraordinary! It’s an easy way to impress friends and family with your cooking skills. Herbs can be expensive, so growing your own is both cost-effective and convenient! This summer try something new and plant an herb garden so that you always have fresh herbs on hand.
To start, you’ll need to pick the perfect location. You’ll want to choose a place that gets at least six good hours of sunlight each day. If you don’t have an open space in your garden, you’ll need large pots, quality potting soil, and a plant fertilizer. You can choose to grow your herbs from seed or purchase seedlings to replant into your garden. For more gardening fun, check out this blog post for tips on how to grow a garden from veggie scraps! Once the plants are firmly in the soil, begin a watering routine to help them grow. Water the plants whenever the soil about an inch below the surface becomes dry. This can vary based on temperature and humidity levels, so you will want to check on your garden frequently.
When designing your garden, choose herbs that are easy to grow and can be used in a variety of dishes. Some of my favorite herbs to grow are basil, parsley, and mint.
Basil comes in multiple varieties, with the most common being Italian basil and Thai basil. It can be used in a variety of different cuisines including Italian, Thai, Mediterranean, and Indian. Use your fresh basil to make a summery caprese salad, a zesty pesto, or add to a homemade marinara sauce.
Parsley is a bright green herb that is often used as a garnish, but it can also pack a flavorful punch. Use fresh parsley to make tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern grain dish, to season meats and fish, and to brighten up dishes that are full of eggs, butter, or cheese.
Mint is a tasty herb that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It is an easy herb to grow because it can survive with less sunlight than many other herbs. Mint can be used in many ways, but some favorites include chocolate mint brownies, blueberry mint lemonade, and plain old mint tea!
When cutting fresh herbs, choose a place where the leaf intersects with the stem, so that plants regrow more quickly. When the growing season eventually ends, you can either transfer your plants to a sunny spot inside or harvest the herbs to dry and freeze so you can get delicious flavor in your meals all year long. Once you’ve mastered using basil, parsley, and mint, expand your garden and plant more of your favorite herbs!