One of the Common Soil food growers specialises in culinary and medicinal uses of herbs and often includes fresh herb bundles in the veg boxes, all grown on our ‘Herb Hill’. Here are the main herbs included and some ideas for their use:
Chives – Allium schoenoprasum. The dark green tubes when chopped can be added to salad, salad dressing, potato salad, soups, sauces, soft cheese, or to make herbal butter. I like rolling chives into my sushi or adding lots to fresh salsa.
Coriander or Cilantro – Coriandrum sativum. Chop fresh and add it to salads, pesto, salsa, avocado like guacamole, fish, meat, curries and oriental dishes. Dill and coriander on salmon. Coriander and mint on lamb.
Dill – Anethum graveolens. Dill can be added to salads, sprinkled on soups, or fish. It is especially good on salmon. Gravlax, a Swedish favourite, is salmon cured with salt and sugar and dill or spruce tips are laid on top served as an appetiser. My favourite is chopped dill and cucumber salad, with or without yogurt.
Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare. Fennel can be used as fresh leaf or dried seed. The fresh leaf is nice with fish or in salads and soups. The stems can be eaten raw or cooked and seasoned as a vegetable. The dried seed is used in tea and chewed to help with fresh breath and to help with digestion. Use the seed in baking or with egg and vegetables.
French sorrel – Rumex scutatus has silver, pointed, heart shaped leaves. It tastes like a burst of lemon, some may find it bitter or acidic, especially the old leaves. It is lovely in a salad, or sprinkled over a soup, it can be eaten as spinach. It is high in oxalic acid so use sparingly. Try adding it to cabbage, beet tops or spinach. Look up a sorrel and pea soup!
Hyssop – Hyssopus officinalis. We have the lovely blue variety.
My favourite is an olive oil dip with Zaatar and a clove of garlic (it must contain hyssop). Try that with a fresh sourdough bread (or some gluten free bread that is your bread of choice). It goes well with hearty meals like meat, stews, fat fish and game because it has a strong flavour.
Lavender – Lavandula spp. Lavender can be dried and put near your bed for better sleep. Or try a warm milk infused with lavender or a lavender tea before bed. It is wonderfully relaxing and warming. If you make ice cream add lavender and vanilla. Add it to other desserts.
Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis. Melissa has an uplifting lemony scent and flavour. It is a herb used for tea to relax and uplift at the same time. Great for children because they like the taste. How about adding it to anything you want a little bit of lemon flavour like fish, poultry, salads and drinks. Whiz up a cucumber add water, mint and lemon balm and enjoy it on a hot summer’s day.
Marjoram – (pot marjoram, oregano, sweet marjoram )-Origanum spp. Rub on meat before roasting, poultry, add to egg dishes, vegetables, sauces, soups stews, and soft cheeses. I like putting lots into my tomato sauces for lasagne and bolognaise. Adding it to butter or making an herb oil or vinegar is also nice. Our dried herb is better than what you can buy in the shops.
Mint – (chocolate mint , spearmint or lemon mint)- Mentha spp. is very useful as a tea to help with digestion. Look up a Moroccan mint tea. It is lovely in cold drinks too, add it to lemonade, cucumber drinks, lime drinks – Mojito and Pimms come to mind!
It is lovely in chocolate puddings, some like it in potato salad and look out for Moroccan or Turkish recipes, they are bound to have mint!
Parsley – Petroselinum crispum.
Fresh parsley, coriander and chives in a fresh salsa or gazpacho. Parsley butter, yogurt with parsley and mint. For a white fish, simple and yummy pour over some parsley lemon and butter.
Rosemary – Rosemary officinalis – Try it as a tea next time you have a headache or if you want a pick-me-up. When I think of Rosemary, I think lemon and garlic and I go from there. Focaccia with rosemary garlic and/olives is one of my favourites.
It is wonderful on poultry, meat, game, fish, eggs, soups and vegetables. Have you tried rosemary ice cream?
Sage – Salvia officinalis. Try Sage tea or sage and lemon balm tea.
Add some to stuffing, poultry, fish and veg. What’s better then roasted veg with sage and thyme. Try crispy leaves(fried in oil) as a crunchy topping to pasta, salads and meats. Another favourite is Butternut squash with sage, thyme, butter and honey. Also lovely, vegetable Fritters with sage and lemon or Sweet potato and sage pancakes, or sage shortbread.
Sweet basil – Ocimum basilicum
Does basil and vanilla custard sound good? Try a pesto with just basil or a mixed pesto with oregano, parsley, and/or coriander. Summer salad with peaches, basil and mozzarella, or swap the peaches for watermelon with feta cheese.
Thyme – Thymus vulgaris and others.
Nice with egg dishes, turkey stuffing, poultry, goose fat, green beans, soups, sauces, shellfish, fish, game, vegetables, pastas and rice dishes.
Welsh onions – Allium fistulosum. It is a salad onion, but it is used extensively in Asian cooking with meats and soups. Add it to quiches, egg dishes, tarts or with flavoured rice dishes.