Thursday, June 28, 2007

Herbaliciousness




I love fresh herbs; they add life and vitality to even the simplest of dishes. Though very convenient, I've come to the conclusion that most dried herbs just aren't worth the bother. I can't remember the last dish with dried herbs that really impressed me. Recently I heard the tip to throw dried herbs on the fire when grilling. That seems like a good way to use them. Or a good a way to dispose of them...

Why am I so crazy about fresh herbs? Because nothing smells better than a roast chicken with fresh tarragon. Fresh thyme used in stews or with meat imparts a uniquely earthy forest like quality. A little bit of minced chives is the mildest form of oniony sweetness you can add to delicate dishes like scrambled eggs.

Parsley and mint should never be relegated to the role of garnish. The pungent green bite of parsley takes on a whole other role when used in quantity. Mint can also be like a salad green and adds a cooling freshness to Middle Eastern dishes like fattoush or tabouli salad or to spicy Trapanese pesto.

Frankly I blame Kalyn and her Weekend Herb Blogging. Her herb-centric posts have caused me to spend far too much on little itty bitty plastic pouches of fresh herbs. So this year I gave growing herbs another try. In an apartment with no direct sun, I had little luck the first time around. This time I decided to put a box just outside my kitchen window. So far my mint, parsley, chives, thyme and tarragon are doing very well. And I can't tell you how happy that makes me. Using my own homegrown herbs is much more satisfying than buying them. No houseplant could possibly give me as much joy.