Cooking a meal with herbs is the best way to get all the fresh and delicious flavours of summer’s darling perennials! Growing your own herbs is easy and fun no matter where you live. Herbs are easy to grow in pots on the balcony, in the garden, and year-round on the countertop. No matter how you grow, this blog will talk about our favourite herbs and our favourite recipes!
Our five favourite herbs are super easy to grow and versatile. The flavour possibilities are endless when adding any of these fresh herbs to a summer cocktail or your weekend BBQ. These five herbs are hearty, easy to grow, and pack a big flavour profile!
- RosemaryRosemary is a beautiful herb defined by it’s woody stalk and coniferous leaves. It’s not just a steakhouse garnish; this plant packs a serious punch! With carnosic and rosmarinic acids, rosemary is a great source of immune support. This woodsy, citrusy, and floral herb is sure to please no matter which dish you add it to!
- ThymeThis little shrubby herb does more than produce cute purple flowers. Thyme is a delicious and flavour packed herb that pairs incredibly well with fish, roasted potatoes, and even berries––if you’re feeling adventurous! It’s also packed with nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, and Thymol (which is an anti-inflammatory oil). Thyme is a delicious herb to add to your food and is also a wonderfully refreshing tea––try it iced with soda and raspberries for a perfect summer thirst quencher.
- ParsleyThis leafy and fresh herb has been relegated to a garnish, but it deserves to shine all on its own! Rich in vitamin K, A, & C, this powerful little herb is a delicious addition to your favourite salad or smoothie.
- BasilThe hero of pizza and spaghetti! This delectable herb is best known for complimenting tomato sauces near and far but it is far more versatile than a pasta sauce. Full of nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, fresh basil packs a powerful punch. Try basil with strawberries muddled in soda or a delicious caprese salad for a fresh summer treat.
- MintBeautiful and refreshing––mint is the herb of the moment! While mint may be found most often as garnish or in your toothpaste, this herb is a nutritious powerhouse that can make supper shine. Mint is also often used as a tool in soothing the digestive tract and may be helpful for those with nausea upset stomach. (Fresh mint leaves make an incredible mint tea in a pinch!)
How to cook with fresh herbs
Fresh herbs require some special treatment. While they are amazing to add to dishes, how you use them can affect their flavour and colour.
These are our 4 tips for using herbs in your cooking:
- Always use a sharp knife to avoid bruising the leaf
- Add fresh herbs as the last step in your cooking to preserve colour and flavour
- Fresh herbs are great in salads and on fruit
- Store herbs in a damp paper towel and air tight container in the fridge for up to a week
- To save fresh herbs, chop them up and freeze them with a drizzle of olive oil
If you’re thinking about growing your own herbs or garden, click here to learn more about the The health benefits of gardening – and what plants to grow in our climate.
Our favourite summer-inspired herb recipes
Watermelon Salad with Feta & Mint
This refreshing watermelon salad is one of our favorite summer sides. Feta, mint & avocado are the perfect tangy, creamy, and fresh counterpoints to the juicy watermelon.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the salad
- 5 cups cubed watermelon
- 1 heaping cup diced English cucumber
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 avocado, cubed
- ⅓ cup torn mint or basil leaves
- ½ jalapeño or serrano pepper, thinly sliced, optional
- Sea salt
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic and salt.
- Arrange the watermelon, cucumber, and red onions on a large plate or platter. Drizzle with half the dressing. Top with the feta, avocado, mint, and serrano pepper, if using, and drizzle with remaining dressing. Season to taste and serve.
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Delicious, flavourful, and refreshing, this lemonade is sure to be a hit amongst kids and adults alike!
- 2 cups strawberries de stemmed and sliced in half
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- 2.5 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2.5 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 5-6 cups cold sparkling water
- In a sauce pan combine water, lemon juice and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.
- Over medium heat add strawberries and basil bring so a slow boil and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Until the strawberries are soft and syrup is thick. Strain with a fine strainer and let it come to room temperature.
- Add 5-6 cups cold water or sparkling cold water to a large pitcher. Combine with strawberry basil syrup
- Garnish with fun straws, lemons, basil, and strawberries!
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