You don’t have to be a master chef to make simple foods taste great. Jamie Oliver discusses how to spice up your home cooking with just a few fresh herbs (and a bit of cheeky humor!). Be sure to tune in this week for the return of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
Growing a Kitchen Garden
Growing your own herbs provides a tangible way to connect with the source of your food, while opening up a world of flavors in the kitchen. A sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs can transform a familiar dish into a delicious, new experience. Many herbs also have health benefits, such as aiding digestion or stimulating the nervous system.
In addition to their culinary uses, herbs beautify the home, engage the senses, and provide a great way to get your hands dirty. If you’re new to gardening or have children, a container garden of herbs is a fun beginning project, especially for city-dwellers. You don’t even need a backyard—a sunny windowsill or balcony will do.
Growing herbs also saves money. Have you ever bought a bunch of fresh mint to discover that you only needed a few sprigs? With only a bit watering and maintenance, potted herbs offer a constant supply of garden-fresh ingredients. Though most flavorful when just harvested, herbs can also be dried and preserved for the winter months.
Herb seedlings can be found at your local gardening supply store and some farmers markets and grocery stores. Choose common herbs that are versatile and easy to grow in your region. Jamie Oliver recommends rosemary, basil, and thyme.
- Rosemary: A perennial herb (meaning you plant it once, and it will grow for years), rosemary dresses up savory dishes such as potatoes, breads, and meats. Add a spring to hot water to make an invigorating tea that makes a great pick-me-up.
- Basil: A relative of mint, basil is a popular annual herb (it must be replanted yearly) that thrives in hot weather. A signature in Indian, Thai, and Italian cuisines, basil is available in many varieties, ranging from green to purple in color. Often paired with tomatoes, it makes a bright addition to salads and pasta and noodle dishes. Basil also repels mosquitoes.
- Thyme: Thyme is a shrubby perennial that comes in different culinary varieties: English thyme, lemon thyme, caraway thyme, and more. Add it to soups, stews, scrambled eggs, or roasted vegetables. Thyme has antiseptic properties and can relieve a sore throat.
Other herbs that are great for beginners include chives, mint, oregano, sage, dill, parsley, and cilantro. Chives and other herbs produce beautiful—and edible—flowers, adding color to your garden. These suggestions are just the beginning. Explore, experiment, and discover what herbs nourish you.
Explore National Gardening Association’s Kids Gardening for activities and projects for gardening with children. Allrecipes.com offers tips and recipes for starting an herb garden. Culinary Herb Guide provides descriptions of common herbs, plus growing and cooking recommendations
Check out the Nourish website for more ideas and resources. Stay tuned for more selections from the Nourish Video Encyclopedia, a collection of short films that explore the story of our food.
What’s your favorite herb?