Monday, April 27, 2009

Simple Herbs, Full Flavors

Two herbs almost anyone can grow, and are easily kept in pots --
Rosemary (the green stalk), for remembrance

and Thyme (the other herb here sprinkled over all), for courage.

For the simplest memorable meals requiring no courage at all to enjoy, they make a great pairing. These are the first two herbs I've used straight from the garden as well as home-dried for use in our meals.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

We love these spices for poultry, soups, and breads, but our favorites are probably for roast chicken/turkey (as a rub on the skin with oil and under the skin for flavor)

...and another favorite use is for roasted veggies.

These were last week's batch of roasted veggies prior to being put into the oven. They require no adornment other than these two spices, a good sprinkling of sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil before being sealed with foil (or covered) and baked at 400 degrees F for an hour or long enough for the thickest veggie chunks to be fork-tender. That day's ingredients were simple some white baking potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Vidalia onions. But you can use whatever dense root veggies and tubers are at hand.

The roasting leaves the veggies aromatic with herbs, and it can be crisped up by briefly uncovering and leaving a bit longer in the oven (we like it without doing that, just fine). Depending on the veggie/root, sometimes it gets paired with salad, with rice, with roast beef, or just served alone, depending on the meal. I've used the pan juices as "gravy" when serving, or to flavor soups or rice. Leftover veggies are great chopped into a hash and crisped in a skillet by themselves or served with eggs for breakfast (especially with a dollop of salsa or a pinch of grated cheese atop), and also are great for a nearly-instant soup when paired with juices from a roast, or turkey-carcass stock.

They also pair well with garlic as a spice.

I, like most people had already discovered the flexibility of rosemary and thyme, but most of my spices used to come from the spice jar rather than just outside my own back door. These are two that have found their way into an abundance of dishes around here because they're so adaptable and delicious fresh.

My next thing to try them in....homemade vinaigrette!

What are your favorite go-to garden herbs?


Country Girl said...

Great post. Last year was my first year growing herbs and this year I plan to grow lots more!

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Dill is a must have so is basil. Your roasted veggies look delish! I agree with growing herbs in pots. I have mine on the patio just outside the backdoor - so easy to step out a snip a bit off for dinner.

Carla said...

Chives! And up here in North Idaho, they're growing like weeds (hee-hee) Last night supper was scrambled eggs with a bit of grated cheese, chopped chives & some homemade salsa.

The sorrel is doing well also - I have picked a few small leaves to munch on while checking on and encouraging my garden this spring.

Can't grow rosemary as a perennial here, but I usually have some in pots. Thyme is a perennial, & just starting to leaf out. I have both regular thyme & lemon thyme.

The mint is starting, as is the oregano - I dry LOTS of oregano for use through the winter - both types of parsley are also leafing out.

Spring is such a 'trying' time of the year: all the perennials are trying to start producing shoots again, and I am TRYING not to plant too much too soon outdoors...

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I love rosemary, but don't think I've used thyme. I NEVER cover our veggies while roasting; I like the browned edges best! And we LOVE garlic, so I always add that.

warren said...

Rosemary is my new fav herb. We grew it for the first time last year and I love its fragrance!

Robbyn said...

Kim, don't you love them? I grew some each year but sometimes never used that I do, wow...the taste is so different :)

Melissa, oh yes! I have seeds to plant dill and basil and had a LOT of basil last year. Making pesto's on my Learn To Do list this year! It makes all the difference with homemade pizza, mmmm

Carla, mmm the chives sound great! I've never tasted sorrel...yet :)

Michelle, when I don't have a whole branch of rosemary in the pan, I leave it open for roasting. I was just afraid it would get brown and singed, so I guess technically it's more baking. Either way, it's yummy! If you have any thyme growing you might like really adds fragrance and flavor and is great with the rosemary :)

Warren...don't you love how foolproof it is and rewarding with not much fuss? I still have a To Do list where I want to try it in vinegar as a cleaner...can you imagine how wonderful the house would smell? (boy that ToDo list grows and grows) :)

warren said...

I never considered adding it to vinegar! We clean with vinegar too and wow would that be perfect!

Kimberly said...

Savory, cilantro & chives are what I use the most, but I love growing all of them--thyme, rosemary, basil, lemon balm, and more! They add so much to a meal!

Thyme is also excellent for homemade cleansers.