Every season has its own set of flavors. Fall and winter showcase full bodied flavors like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and mulling spices. However, when it comes to the warmer weathered months of spring and summer, fresher and lighter favors are a must. In celebration of the spring season (and soon to be summer) here are seven herbs for your home garden-- even if that backyard garden includes a few small planters or pots on your kitchen windowsill.
When caring for basil, remember to prune it back to promote growth by pinching the basil back above the bottom-most leaf. If your basil starts sprouting flowers, trim them immediately. Flowers indicate the basil may soon go to seed, which will make this herb bitter in taste. Italian Sweet Basil is a versatile summer herb that is best used raw in salads or soups as it does not withstand heat well. If you are looking for a sturdier spice, then try planting Thai Basil, which tastes slightly less sweet than its Italian Basil counterpart.
Recipe Recommendation: Mussels with Tomatoes, Basil and Saffron
Chives are a great springtime herb to plant because they don’t require much maintenance. When it comes time to harvest, simply cut them straight across, but be warned, once you trim the chives, they will not come back. If you want a steady supply, plant them in succession so you can replenish your chive crop. Chives have a delicate onion flavor and like Italian Basil, don’t stand up well to heat, so it’s best to use them as garnish on salads, soups, or potatoes. You can even infuse butter or salad dressings with chives.
Recipe Recommendation: Persian Kuku with Saffron Potatoes and Herbs
Cilantro is incredibly delicate when it comes to planting. You want to purposely overseed them so more plants come in each time you harvest it. This herb also tends to take off quickly, so you will want to grow enough to harvest-- but not so much it goes to seed. Cilantro is incredibly versatile and can add a pop of fresh flavor to drinks, dressings, guacamole, and even smoothies. Cilantro compliments both sweet and savory flavors so don’t be afraid to get creative with it in the kitchen! Tip: If cilantro does go to seeds, you can cook with the seeds themselves, which are actually coriander.
Recipe Recommendation: Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cilantro Rice
Dill can grow pretty large, so make sure you have enough space or a large pot to plant it in. Dill has a delicate anise-y flavor and is best used raw. It pairs well with fish like wild caught salmon, beets, eggs, and yogurt. You can of course use it to make your own homemade pickles too. Fun Fact: Dill can attract both birds and butterflies to your yard!
Recipe Recommendation: Herb Rice with Green Garlic, Saffron, and Crispy Shallots
Also known as spearmint, mint is an incredibly hardy herb and is a perennial, so it will grace your garden with its presence every year. However, it can become invasive, so it’s best to monitor its growth closely. Enjoy it in beverages (Moscow Mule anyone) or in salads and sauces. You can even add it to your favorite tea for a fresh burst of flavor.
Recipe Recommendation: Sicilian Lamb Spezzatino with Saffron and Mint
Believed by the Greeks to be an excellent herb for the brain, rosemary is an evergreen shrub. Its fragrant needle-like leaves are available fresh all year long if well taken care of. Rosemary pairs well with roasted meats such as chicken and lamb. Fun Fact: Rosemary is often used as a decorative plant in many gardens and landscapes.
Recipe Recommendation: Roast Chicken with Saffron and Lemon
Thyme is a very hardy plant, which means it can withstand heated cooking, making it an easy (and delicious) addition to breads, doughs, meats like beef, chicken or pork, soups and stocks. It can even be cooked down and turned into a simple syrup for cocktails.
Recipe Recommendation: New Potatoes with Thyme and Saffron
When planting springtime herbs, pick plants that you will enjoy using in your own home cooking cooking. Remember, your springtime herbs and garden should be unique as your palette so have fun with it!
Stock up on your favorite herb that you cannot grow in your backyard garden - saffron.
Tag us @rumi_spice so we can see your springtime herb gardens.