When it comes to adding flavour, texture and generally elevating your food, one of the easiest ways of doing it is by cooking with herbs. From hits of freshness before serving, to giving bursts of seasoning whilst cooking, knowing your herbs and how to cook with them can make them an ally and partner in your culinary repertoire.
Whether you live in a box flat or an idyllic country setting, a small kitchen to a large and spacious one, you can grow herbs pretty much anywhere and it doesn’t take a lot of time or space.
We’ll take a closer look as to what day to day herbs you can use in your kitchen and great ways to grow and keep them as well.
A fresh herb used so much in cooking that it is a go to for anyone serious about their food. Mainly used at the end of preparation, it provides hits of freshness and a lightness that provide a perfect finish to a wide host of dishes.
Great with: Roasted meats, grilled fish, stews and fish based pasta dishes
Flavour profile: Bitter, fresh, rich
Dish to try: lemon and parsley linguine
The perfect Italian herb, and well, yes, we should know about that. It is the base for pretty much all the different pesto sauces you can find in Northern and central Italy but there is more to this plant. From salads to egg based dishes, this is the kind of herb you want to keep around the house and to hand for a long time.
Great with: Pasta, bruschetta, pizza, seafood, tomatoes and mozzarella
Flavour profile: Sweet and subtly peppery
Dish to try: classic basil pesto
These are sturdy, woody herbs that we see all the time with lamb – and there’s a good reason for that that, it’s the king of the herb/meat combination. But did you know that rosemary is also great in breads, stews (take out before serving) and on the bbq to help either dress food up or, use as skewers with meats and fish?
Great with: lamb, roast vegetables, stews and bread.
Flavour profile: woody and fragrant
Dish to try: Rosemary seared scallops
Another herb that is woody in texture but accentuated with perfumed leaves that make it a great addition to thinks like stocks and stews. Again, like rosemary, great for roasts of all kinds as it releases some beautifully flavoured oils into the cooking cauldron.
Great with: Chicken, vegetables, roasts, mac and cheese
Flavour profile: sweet and earthy
Dish to try: Thyme and mustard yorkshire pudding
Deeply aromatic, great for all kinds of weather conditions and is one of the go to herb varieties that make it a versatile and strong flavour combination. We love making butter and sage sauce for fresh gnocchi, but the uses with this herb are wonderful on so many levels.
Great with: Bangers and mash, onion soup, sticky pork chops, gnocchi
Flavour Profile: aromatic, minty, musky – use sparingly
Dish to try: Sage and blue cheese shortbreads
We all know what mint is by simply it’s smell, but this hardy herb which lasts all year is something that has lots of uses that can really make a difference to your food and drink repertoire. From adding them to your greens in a salad to combining them with fruits and even roasting them on a bbq to give that extra kick, this is a herb you can’t afford to not grow.
Great with: salads, curry’s, risotto, lamb, fruit and a mighty mojito!
Flavour profile: Fresh and fragrant
Dish to try: North African Mint Tea
Growing herbs in the kitchen
You don’t need a lot of space and you don’t necessarily need direct sunlight, just a little which means that you can, if you wish, place pots where the herbs will get some sunlight in the day but not all day.
There are so many ways you can grow herbs in the kitchen or inside your home and you don’t need lots of space. You could use intelligent storage or rail hangers to keep pots elevated like the image below (from Ikea!) or you could just opt for small pots on worktops if you have the space. We find that having smaller pots inside a longer planter allows you to maximise your herb choice and also allocate a space which is specific for your plants.
If you are going to grow from seeds then be sure to have growing compost mixed with regular and that the base of the pot is properly irrigated for drainage. If you are going to grow from plants, then you want to cut back the top leaves to get more growth from the plant. This is particularly important in basil and mint.
Growing herbs in your garden
There isn’t that much difference than the rules followed in the kitchen other than, you are dealing with the elements and so some herbs will need more attention and certainly taken out of the frost and cooler periods. However, in most cases, a lot more of the sturdier herbs will tend to grow back in the spring time and last throughout until October/November.
Woody herbs and more wilder varieties will be suitable for outside use.