When I’m sharing a recipe, I always try to keep the novice cook in mind. Why? Because once upon a time I was one! Today I’m sharing my favorite herbs and an easy recipe for pesto.
You can read about one of my early cooking disasters here! I love growing and using fresh herbs and after reading all about herbs, I hope you will, too.
Introduction to Herbs
Are you the type person that automatically grabs the salt shaker and sprinkles the food before even tasting it? I have unnamed family members that do this (and add hot sauce to everything, but that’s another story).
I always tell them that it’s an insult to the chef (usually me) to salt food before tasting said food.
Several years ago I began to take note of the sodium content in canned and prepackaged goods and I was enlightened and dismayed at the copious amount of sodium found in these products.
I do try to eat whole foods most of the time so I set out to reduce the amount of salt in my family’s diet without giving them bland food. I amped up the taste with my favorite herbs and added tons of flavor. No one even noticed the reduction of salt.
Fresh Herbs Are Always Best
Give me a choice and I always pick fresh herbs over dried, but fresh (and dried) herbs can be very expensive to buy. And it’s so easy to grow your own!
I’m always excited each spring when it’s time to plant my little herb garden. And my favorite must-haves are Basil, Dill, Rosemary, Thyme, and Cilantro.
I also plant Mint, but I plant it in containers all by itself because it will take over a herb garden. I have mint growing on the back deck and the front porch. It’s a natural insect repellent! It’s also used to flavor salads and drinks. But I have to admit, I use it mostly to repel insects. It really works!
Let’s take a look at Other Favorite Herbs
- Basil goes well with Italian dishes and is usually the main ingredient in pesto. I’ve included my favorite pesto recipe at the end of this post.
- Dill is tasty in pickles, salad dressings and homemade tartar sauce (my personal fave). And dill is the perfect seasoning for fish.
- Rosemary looks like a little tree and has a wonderful woodsy smell. Rosemary adds great flavor to chicken, lamb, pork, salmon, tuna, soups, and stews. A little goes a long way.
- Thyme is a wonderful addition to vegetables and beans. Thyme is also included in the French combination of herbs called bouquet garni, used to season soups and stews.
- Cilantro is a herb used widely in Latin America, the Caribbean, the far east and in my kitchen. Cilantro is my favorite herb! It’s one of those herbs that you either love or hate – there is no in-between.
My mom despised Cilantro. I’ve read that some people think cilantro tastes like soap. It’s not in their minds. It has something to do with genetics.
The seed of the Cilantro plant is called Coriander. I always have Coriander in my spice drawer and it’s considered a spice and a herb.
When I use fresh herbs from my garden, I don’t snip them until I’m ready to use them. I just rinse, blot with a clean kitchen towel, remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves.
Check out 25 Best Herbs to grow in your kitchen garden!
Fresh-picked herbs do not like moisture on their leaves. Wet herb leaves will turn slimy very quickly. Never rinse fresh herbs until right before using it. When purchasing fresh herbs from the market, this is how I store them:
- Snip off a little bit from the bottom of the stem with your scissors (just like fresh flowers).
- Place in a small jar of water with just the stems immersed (keep the leaves above the water).
- Cilantro and Dill loves cooler temperatures and the jar should be stored in the fridge. Parsley can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Basil prefers room temperature.
Favorite Pesto Recipe Using One of My Favorite Herbs
Speaking of basil, here’s my very favorite pesto recipe. I should call it presto pesto because it’s so easy to make. But that’s quite a mouth full!
Pesto is so easy to make and it’s delicious served on toasted bread.
If you love pesto as much as I do, you’ll want to check out more of my favorite recipes:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Add oil and process until smooth.
- Transfer to a serving dish and stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pesto can be used in so many ways. Here's a few: Use on pizza or toss lightly with pasta. Spread on Italian bread slices for Bruschetta. Spoon a dab on top of sea scallops, steaks and baked potatoes before serving.
Also, I rarely add salt to my pesto. I think the Parmesan cheese adds enough salt and flavor.
Amount Per Serving Calories 141Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 4mgSodium 120mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 2g
I’ve never tried an indoor herb garden. Have you? It’s on my list of things I need to do.
What’s your favorite and least favorite herb?