Favorite Herbs and Pesto

by Alli

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. 

Basil Pesto in white bowl on wood cutting board

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

intro to basic 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

Storing Herbs

Growing Favorite Herbs in White Pots on Porch Ledge

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 In White Bowl - Favorite Herbs

Pesto is so easy to make and it’s delicious served on toasted bread. 

easypesto

If you love pesto as much as I do, you’ll want to check out more of my favorite recipes:

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Basil Pesto is easy to make and is delicious served on toasted bread, pasta or spread on a sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add oil and process until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 141Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 4mgSodium 120mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 2g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite herbs is Cilantro. Herbs I don’t particularly care for are fennel (tastes like black licorice) and parsley.

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?

9 comments

Amanda Smith February 20, 2014 - 8:39 am

I grow herbs too, but I never knew how to properly store them fresh. I just dried them right away. I’m going to try this, this spring and summer!

Reply
Alli February 20, 2014 - 9:01 am

I’m going to try and grown them indoors next winter. Herbs are super expensive when I have to buy them from the grocery store.

Reply
Andrea @ thedistractedhousewife February 20, 2014 - 10:45 am

I love that you listed the uses for all these basic ingredient. When I was first learning how to cook I would have LOVED to have a list like this.

Reply
Alli February 20, 2014 - 11:32 am

When I was first learning how to cook I barely knew what a herb was and certainly did not know how to use them. 🙂

Reply
Kim February 20, 2014 - 11:27 am

I love pesto – this looks awesome. My favorite herbs are some of the same ones you mentioned. I tried growing some herbs and it was an epic fail – maybe I should try again. Thanks for all the tips on how to store herbs – I’m pretty sure I’ve done that wrong, too!!

Reply
Alli February 20, 2014 - 11:30 am

Living in the south, I have noticed that I really have to watch my herbs and make sure they get plenty of water.

Reply
Anna @ Northern Homestead February 20, 2014 - 9:07 pm

Pinned it for the summer when Basil will be in abundance. So looking forward to it! Thank you for the recipe!

Reply
Shirley @ Intelligent Domestications February 20, 2014 - 11:10 pm

This post is right on time for me. We are growing our own little herb garden this year for the first time! I have already Pinned this to my Yard and Garden board but am going to Pin it again to my Good Eats board for that yummy looking Pesto!

Reply
Alli February 21, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Thanks for pinning, Shirley! Much appreciated!!

Reply

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