Fresh herbs are a great way to bring a pop of flavour to your dishes.
Yet herbs are expensive to buy at the grocery store and aren’t always in season.
You could use dried herbs, but many of them lose their essential oils and don’t deliver that same WOW punch.
Fortunately, you can enjoy fresh herbs all year long and you don’t need a lot of space to do it.
What to consider when choosing your herbs
If full-scale gardening isn’t your cup of mint tea, or space is at a premium, you need to get the most from your plant choices.
There are two factors you need herbs to do when making that decision based on space. They need to:
- compliment a wide range of dishes
- be easy to grow.
Let’s get started.
Here are 4 Easy-to-Grow and Versatile Herbs
Basil tops the list because it is so versatile and is super easy to grow from seed.
All you need is a small pot and sunny windowsill for fresh basil at your fingertips all year long.
Imagine juicy tomatoes paired with fresh mozzarella and fresh-picked basil!
Top them with a balsamic reduction, a drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil, a little sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper and you’ve got a delicious, super-easy lunch entrée or dinner salad.
Basil is also the main ingredient in fresh pesto, and it pairs with perfection when simmered in tomato-based pasta sauces.
For a unique twist, add sliced basil leaves with Brie cheese to sourdough bread for a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich.
If you want to get even more creative, plant purple basil for a stunning, delicious purple basil jelly.
This herb does double duty.
The fresh leaves (cilantro) of young plants are a staple in Mexican cooking.
Fresh cilantro is also the main ingredient in homemade salsas.
And if you’re tired of parsley, switch it with cilantro for a unique flavour to your salads.
Cilantro is often used in marinades for beef, chicken, pork and vegetables.
It’s especially well suited for marinating meats for fajita recipes.
Extend the life of your plant by trimming off leaves and keep the plant in cooler areas.
Towards the end of the growing season, your cilantro plant will eventually “bolt.” Almost overnight your plant will form lacy flowers.
Soon seeds will develop which can later be harvested.
Those seeds are what’s known as coriander.
When lightly toasted and ground to a powder they’re more mellow in flavour than the leaves and are a tasty addition to many recipes.
One of my favourites is in the slow cooker with a spicy sauce.
Rosemary can also be started from seeds, but you may find it easier to pick up small plants from your local garden centre each spring.
Bring your potted plant indoors during cooler weather and keep the soil moist.
Rosemary needs a sunny window, preferably with a southern exposure,* to thrive.
Not only is rosemary delicious in marinades for roasted chicken, pork, or beef, it imparts a deep, earthy aroma to roasted new potatoes and homemade focaccia bread.
Rosemary is also a pretty plant with decorative appeal. It adds structure to the herb garden with its elegant upright growth habit.
Before Christmas, trim your rosemary to resemble a tree and add decorations. This makes a special hostess gift around the holidays.
*Southern exposure is a term used in the northern hemisphere.
This is another classic culinary herb that is so easy to grow.
Fresh thyme is a staple in many types of cuisine and adds a distinctive flavour to meat-based dishes, stews and soups.
For a special treat, grow lemon thyme and add an unexpected hint of citrus to your dishes.
Thyme has a look of elegance and beauty and is often grown for that reason alone.
The plant balances taller herbs like rosemary and is used to edge walkways and paths for the fragrance.
A word of caution: if you have pets, keep those herbs for ornamental purpose only.
Parsley is a good standby that goes with every dish and if you can only choose one, this herb is it!
These herbs are all easy to grow, need minimal care, and can be found in a diverse range of recipes, so not only will you enjoy growing them, you’ll love using them too.
If you're inspired to grab some herb seeds for you kitchen
You do not pay more by clicking on these links but if you make a purchase, it helps me to support my blog.
Whole Food Studio is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.