Spring couldn't get here fast enough in the North East! March's rough weather really tested our patience with winter weather. Now that it is over, it's time to start thinking of gardening, getting outdoors more often and eating lighter food. This time of year always makes me think of herbs.
In my vegetable garden, I always have a basil plant but this year I may add a few more. But I feel like I need a plan on how to use herbs so I can make the most of them. Last year, the basil plants were so plentiful that I dried the leaves and made my own dried basil, which I have been enjoying all winter!
I found a really great website that identified food and herb pairings. So here is what I think I will plant in the garden this year (beyond basil - because I love fresh pesto) with recommendations on what to pair the herbs with:
CHIVES: Dips, potatoes & tomatoes
OREGANO: Peppers & tomatoes
PARSLEY: Potatoes & eggs
THYME: Lima beans, poultry, summer squash & tomatoes (Source: UNL Food)
Now, I know the herbs will go well with other veggies, the above is just a starting point. Since I always plant peppers and tomatoes in the garden (after all I live in NJ which is known for its tomatoes), it was encouraging that so many herbs I plan to plant will go well with tomatoes.
UNL Food also recommends that if using delicate herbs like basil, chives and parsley, to add them 1-2 minutes before the dish is done cooking. However, more sturdy herbs like oregano and thyme can be added the last 20 minutes of cooking. This was a good cooking tip since I usually just throw all the herbs in at once without considering the last of the time needed for the recipe.
I have raised garden beds in my backyard. I found it gives a better starting mix of soil and manure for the plants. I usually layer the beds, starting with a general soil on the bottom, a fortified soil and manure. mixture on top. The raised garden beds are easy to find but I bought mine at Costco. They are sturdy and easy to put together.
I started with one raised bed last year and it was so successful that I am expanding by adding 3 more in my backyard! If you click on the picture above, you'll be taken to Costco's website to view the garden bed. Anyway, expanding my vegetable garden means I have to cut back on the flowering plants but that is OK. The pepper plants from last year started producing mid-to-end of summer and kept producing until November! It was so great to walk outside and simply pluck fresh veggies!
Now that I am expanding the herbs in the garden, I wanted to share some recipes that use fresh herbs. If you make any of the recipes below, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing how you make the recipes! Also, if you want more recipes, healthy living and wellness tips, follow my blog on Bloglovin. Enjoy!
Cheddar Chive Skillet Corn Bread by Delicious Living. I love a good bread recipe! This recipe is gluten-free as it calls for a gluten-free flour. But it if you don't have issues with gluten, the recipe states you can also use whole wheat flour - which is an ingredient I always have on hand. Click here for the recipe.
Sage Breaded Chicken, Spinach and Snap Pea Salad by Delicious Living. I know - I did not say I was going to grow sage. However, that is not why I posted this recipe! I posted it because of the vinaigrette that calls for parsley. Plus this salad has strawberries and basil leaves as well, making it perfect for spring! Click here for the recipe.
Garlic Thyme Chicken Thighs by Julia's Album. Chicken thighs are so tasty, juicy and usually inexpensive. I love cooking with them. You need an oven-safe braiser pan or skillet with a lid to make this recipe. It is relatively fast to come together, only 35 minutes from start to finish. Click here for the recipe.
Honey Oregano Pork Chops by Tastes of Lizzy T. I really like the savory and sweet aspect of this recipe. The honey oregano is part of the marinade for the pork chops. It is recommended to marinade the pork chops 4-6 hours - so making the marinade in the morning and letting the pork chops sit all day would do it. It doesn't take long to cook after the marinade is done so dinner is on the table in about 30 minutes after you make a side dish and veggie to go with it. Click here for the recipe.
Chive Pancake by Spice the Plate. I was intrigued by this recipe because of the title. Turns out it is more like a fritatta than a pancake. But that is ok - I'm always willing to try something new! Plus it looks really good. I would try this for breakfast on the weekend OR for a quick dinner served with a salad. Click here for the recipe.
I hope this blog post about cooking with herbs gave you some inspiration to try a new recipe. If you try any of the above or create your own version of the above, let me know by commenting below. I love reading your takes on the recipes I share. Follow my blog on Bloglovin.