My husband Ted and I, and our friends Candy and Dave, dug the first herb plants into the ground the summer after we moved to our log house.
I'd never had much luck growing herbs on my windowsill in the city, and I was nervous. I shoved my black thumb into a gardening glove and tried to forget about all the plants I'd lost over the years.
We put in the Simon-and-Garfunkel herbs (you know, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme). We planted chives, because what's easier to grow than chives? We had no idea that the anise hyssop would outlive everything, and would spread more quickly than the mint, which also spread quickly.
The parsley never reseeded, and the basil grew so tall it fell over, but that first summer, we learned how wonderful it is to cook with fresh herbs.
Each year the garden has grown, and though we share the harvest with beetles and rabbits and deer, we're hooked on walking out the front door, clippers in hand, and snipping off a sprig of this or a few leaves of that.
What's growing in our herb garden?
Basil, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, rosemary, Greek oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, sage, chives, garlic (Chinese) chives, spearmint, chocolate mint, lavender, anise hyssop.
How/where to store fresh herbs:
Trim the stems and store upright in a glass of water, for several days (change the water every day). Or, wash the herbs, roll in paper towels, and place the rolls inside a plastic ziploc bag in the refrigerator; the herbs will stay fresh for 2-3 days.
More facts about fresh herbs, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Fresh herbs, three bricks, one cookbook (Recipe brick-grilled chicken thighs)
Do you have an herb garden or a windowsill garden? What are you growing this year?
Roasted potatoes with lemon thyme vinaigrette
If you have lemon thyme in your garden, it will be great in this recipe. If not, thyme plus lemon zest does the trick. These potatoes make a nice change from mayonnaise-based potato salads. Serves 6.
24 oz baby new potatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
2 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut the potatoes in half or quarters, to make uniform bite-size pieces. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes and garlic cloves with 2 tsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and just beginning to crust on the cut sides.
In the meantime, combine 3/4 cup oil, lemon zest and juice, thyme and parsley in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. When the potatoes are cooked, add them to the dressing and toss frequently for 15 minutes, until the potatoes have cooled. Serve warm or cold.
Other recipes that use fresh herbs:
Chevre with sauteed grapes and fresh herbs, from Herbivoracious
Fresh herb muffins, from Chocolate & Zucchini
Panzanella (bread and tomato salad), from David Lebovitz
Egg white omelet with fresh herbs, black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, from The Hungry Mouse
Bulgur salad with oranges, cashews and fresh herbs, from Enlightened Cooking
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