Herbs are a staple in my garden, usually scattered amongst my ornamentals. I grow them for different reasons – some for their fragrance or ornamental appeal, some for medicinal use, and others I cook with.
My Favorite Herb Companions
There are a few herbs from the garden I cook with more than others; still, I love them all. But for me basil, parsley and rosemary get used most often in the kitchen. The first two make great garden companions with similar needs but they also pair well in many recipes. And while rosemary may enjoy drier conditions than basil or parsley, in the kitchen they all mesh together nicely.
- Basil – While the sweet anise-like flavor of basil finds its way in Mediterranean dishes, pastas and salads, in all honesty, I’ll try this herb in just about anything when I feel like experimenting. I grow different varieties of basil in my garden. Of course, there’s sweet basil – Genovese and Amethyst (a purple variety) are two. I also have African blue basil, an attractive purplish-green type that doubles as both a culinary herb and ornamental in my garden, and for a more citrusy flavor and aroma like heaven, there’s lemon basil.
- Parsley – I like the slightly peppery taste of parsley, specifically flat-leaf parsley, which I add to most recipes. I’m no chef and rarely use parsley for garnish. I don’t really care much for how decorative a meal is. I’d rather just eat it. I will use it fresh or dried, depending on how much I’m blessed with since the black swallowtail butterflies use the plant for their young, which feed on it. I try to plant extra for this very reason. I normally have some growing in a container somewhere near the kitchen though, and the herb grows here through winter, so I tend to have plenty regardless. But it’s also very easy to propagate should I find my supply getting low.
- Rosemary – There’s just something special about rosemary. In the garden it makes an attractive shrub with great tolerance for dry conditions. It’s super simple to propagate too. In fact, I have a habit of harvesting more than I need so I just stick cuttings in a container and they will eventually root. It’s another herb plant I have plenty of. Flavor-wise, as with its scent, the plant is a bit pungent with almost a piney citrus-like taste (to me). I love to use sprigs of the herb sparingly in soups or with meat and fish.
Cooking with Herbs
You can’t go wrong with basil added to spaghetti sauce, as we all know how well it pairs with tomatoes, but I like to use parsley in mine and sometimes rosemary. Basil and parsley herbs combine favorably in spinach chicken balls, a healthier meatball alternative with a slather of tomato sauce. Yum! When I fix roasted potatoes (those usually come from the garden too), parsley is a must have along with rosemary. Chicken is divine when slowly sauteed in olive oil with rosemary, basil and minced garlic. Rosemary also takes center stage in flavoring my oven roasted or slow cooked turkey breast with stuffing. These are just a few examples of tasty meals I flavor with herbs from the garden.