5 recipes made with herbs from your garden

By / Food / July 3rd, 2018 / 1
Recipes made with herbs

I don’t have much of a green thumb but this year I started an herb garden indoors, using seeds. Surprisingly, it worked. Once those tiny shoots were sturdy enough, I transplanted them outdoors, gave them plenty of sunshine and water and fed them when they were hungry. Now I have a bumper crop of herbs: cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives and basil.

The wonderful thing about herb gardens is that they can be grown indoors at any time. Gardens give back in unexpected ways: It is humbling to see how beautiful and perfect nature is as your garden grows. Always an exciting challenge, you can always come up with recipes incorporating the food you have grown. It’s inspiring to know the numerous health benefits you receive by munching on your crop. And giving away what you can’t eat to friends and family is the best feeling of all.

Grilled Chicken with Mango Cilantro Salsa

Serves 4

Cilantro is an ancient herb, cultivated in Egypt and Greece over 5,000 years ago. With vitamins A, B and K, cilantro also delivers manganese, a mineral that promotes bone health. If cilantro tastes like soap to you, your olfactory-receptor genes are to blame. The OR6A2 gene picks up the smell of aldehyde chemicals, found in both cilantro and soap.

4 boneless chicken breast filets
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mango Cilantro Salsa

2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 scallions, minced
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Preheat barbecue grill on high.

Place chicken in a shallow dish. Rub with olive oil and drizzle with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate in fridge 1 hour. Remove from dish and grill, covered, 3 minutes.

Flip and continue cooking, covered, 3 minutes longer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and continue cooking about 6 minutes, flipping once, or until a meat thermometer registers 165˚F.

Mango Salsa: In a medium bowl, gently stir ingredients together.

Place grilled chicken on platter. Spoon salsa over top of chicken. Garnish with additional cilantro.

Match: Excellent with an Albariño from Spain.

Summer’s Bounty Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a refreshing cold soup native to Spain. It typically includes the season’s most beloved garden vegetables — tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic and bell pepper. In this recipe, aromatic dill serves as the soup’s garnish, adding an unexpected pop of flavour. Dill is a lovely, easy-to-grow herb and a good source of vitamins A and C plus calcium. Dill does not like to be transplanted, so it’s best to sow the seeds outdoors when the threat of frost has passed.

6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato juice
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced

In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together tomato juice, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. Pour over vegetables.

In a food processor, puree half the mixture until smooth. Return to bowl. Chill in fridge 2 hours before serving. Ladle into bowls or frosted glasses. Garnish with dill.

Brined and Grilled Pork Chops with Sour Cream Chive Mashed Potatoes

One of my favourite perennial herbs, thyme is part of the mint family. It’s believed to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The ancient Romans consumed the herb to counteract poisoning and food contamination. In Medieval times, it was thought to foster courage and ward off nightmares. It’s a good source of vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as riboflavin, copper, calcium, manganese, folate, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

6 cups water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick

In a large bowl, whisk water, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper. Place pork chops in large food storage bag and pour in brine. Seal bag and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to grill, remove chops from fridge, discard brine and rinse chops in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile, preheat barbecue grill to medium. When grill is hot, turn off one side for indirect heat. Place chops over direct heat to sear, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Move chops to indirect heat and cover. Cook about 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 145˚F.

Transfer chops to platter and serve with sour cream chive mashed potatoes (recipe follows) and grilled zucchini.

Sour Cream Chive Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4 to 6

Chives are the mildest member of the allium family, which includes garlic, scallions, onions and leeks. They’re rich in vitamins A, C and K, along with antioxidants and flavonoids, folate, niacin, potassium, iron, calcium, riboflavin and thiamin. Add them to scrambled eggs and omelettes, baked potatoes, sauces, soups and salads. Snipping chives with scissors is the easiest way to prepare them. Mashing potatoes can be tricky; add more or less milk, butter and sour cream, depending on how creamy you’d like your mash to be.

5 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and continue boiling, uncovered, about 35 to 40 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes. With an electric mixer, mash potatoes, milk and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in sour cream and chives. Garnish with additional chives.

Match: Uncork a rich Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Gamay

Summer Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

Serves 4

Balsamic glaze can be purchased or made by combining 2 cups balsamic vinegar with ¼ cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and reduced by half, about 15 minutes. This recipe includes basil, oregano and parsley, although you can change it up by using the herbs of your choice. Basil has anti-inflammatory properties and beta-carotene, which protects against asthma and certain types of arthritis. Oregano contains vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Parsley is related to celery and is considered one of the healthiest herbs on the planet. It’s believed to protect against cancer, osteoarthritis and more. If you find a sprig of parsley as a garnish on your plate, be sure to have a bite.

1 package penne rigate
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
Balsamic glaze

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Place in large bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and butter, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450˚F. Toss cherry tomatoes with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast, turning once, until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst, about 15 to 20 minutes. Gently stir into pasta.

Garnish with feta cheese and parsley. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Match: Pinot Grigio is a nice accompaniment.


Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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