You Grow, Girl! 6 Easy-to-Grow Herbs to Plant Now
Not all of us were born with a green thumb – and depending on where you live, a garden patch may be hard to come by too. But a lack of ‘talent’ or space shouldn’t be an impediment to getting in touch with your inner small-scale farmer. How to start your operation, be it small or large? Start with a few special, good-for-you herbs. Between the taste they’ll add to meals, health benefits and the sense of pride that comes with growing your own, you won’t regret the time you spend tending your ‘crops.’ All you need is a bit of good soil, some seeds (organic if you can), a few pots or a patch in your garden and water – and before you know it, you can add ‘gardener’ to your list of skills.
Here are six easy-care herbs to grow this season – and my herbal must-haves that make your summer dishes really sing:
1) BASIL: It grows fast so the reward, in addition to the flavor, is a plant (or too) that looks pretty and lush as it grows. Drop your harvest, raw or sautéed, into sauces, stews and salads, or try my favorite way to enjoy a bumper crop – home-made Olive Herbed Pesto (see recipe below).
2) CILANTRO: Also known as Chinese parsley, cilantro is high in antioxidants, has detoxifying effects on the liver and may help the body eliminate heavy metals. And it also tastes great – which is why it’s often a part of many detox diets.
3) PARSLEY: Start this one as soon as you can as it takes a while to get growing, but once it does, you’ll love the fresh scent and may have to resist the urge to garnish just about every meal with it! A great source of antioxidants and flavonoids, parsley is also a great breath-freshener after eating.
4) ROSEMARY: As the saying goes, it’s ‘rosemary to remember,’ because research indicates that this rich, fragrant herb can have positive effects on memory and is considered a cognitive stimulant. It’s also helpful in boosting immunity and soothing stomachs, in addition to adding flavor to marinades, meat, fish and poultry dishes. But my favorite use of all? Rosemary infused olive oil – delish!
5) THYME: In the market for more phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for wellness? Thyme’s got ‘em. Thyme delivers B vitamins and folic acid as well as vitamins A, C, E and K – all of which are very helpful in maintaining overall health. My favorite ways to use it? In summer soups, on top of eggs, or added to meat, fish and poultry.
6) MINT: The fragrant, refreshing taste of mint is welcome in a salad, in tea, iced or hot, or as a perky ingredient in homemade pesto. Loaded with minerals and phytochemicals and easily grown in an herb garden, fresh mint has been used for relief of digestive symptoms for centuries. It can quiet digestive symptoms and it can also be useful as a diuretic, to flush out toxins.
Here’s to a wonderful growing season and more great taste on your table this summer!
OLIVE HERBED PESTO
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: None
Serves: 6 (2 tablespoons per serving)
1⁄2 cup fresh herbs, cleaned and loosely packed (basil, parsley, mint, cilantro, etc.)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pitted olives
1 tablespoon miso
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Step 1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender or in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth. If you have any remaining pesto, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.