Want to know how to cross "start a new hobby" off your to-do list as well as the age old "make more and better food at home" New Year's resolution? Start a windowsill herb garden. Don't scoff, it's totally doable and easier than you think. There are some delicious, classic, herbs that thrive in the kitchen window, making their care easily achieved in your off-duty hours at home.
Fresh herbs picked from the root, vine or stalk they grown on add a serious restaurant quality to your meals. In fact, talk to a chef and he'll tell you that if you want to create better meals at home you don't need entirely new recipes. What you need is a way to make standbys feel new and flavorful. Enter fresh herbs.
To whet your appetite, we've gathered some of the best at-home herbs and tell you how to use them in your dishes. Have we sold you yet on what you're doing this weekend? Hint: heading to the nearest nursery and picking up the necessary pots and gardening paraphernalia to create your own fresh herb garden.
Basil comes in a variety of flavor profiles and intensities. You might want to look up the different kinds before you buy. If you love spicy Eastern fare, go for Thai Basil. If you enjoy citrus, lemon basil may be the thing. Unlike other herbs, you'll see basil called for in main dishes and desserts, it's a major multi-tasker. An easy way to use it: make a special mayo to spread on everything by adding a touch of lemon juice, fresh basil and garlic.
Rosemary can be a bit of a hassle to get off its stems, which are like tiny pine tree branches. Cut off the branches themselves and place them around and on top of any baked dish for mediterranean flavor. Protein baked inside parchment paper with rosemary, garlic and olive oil is healthy and so good.
Parsley is almost like salt, it's so useful. Mix it with garlic and butter for a delicious spread. Put it in the pan when you're searing your steak. Stir it in your hummus for added fresh flavor. It's great paired with lemon, so can be added to your fish.
A must have for baked potato lovers, dried chives you buy in a bottle at the store just don't do this sweet, yet subtly spicy herb justice. Stir fry night is definitely asking for some chive in the wok. Any time you use sour cream, it's naked without a few fresh chives. Soups and stews are so much better with a little chive in their mix.
Dill is a savory herb that adds a woody depth to whatever you put it on. Sure, you can labor over homemade dill pickles if you want to, but dill can be incorporated into anything. Try it with pasta dishes and cream sauces. Sprinkle it on cucumber tea sandwiches for a heartier-tasting snack. Add some pizazz to homemade dipping sauces too. Over a simple salmon fillet baked in butter and olive oil, it's divine.
Sage has a slightly bitter taste that cuts through fatty meats. You'll want to add it to turkey, duck and less expensive cuts of beef. Finely cut it into recipes that call for yummy Italian pancetta. Try it on your next BLT, too.
Think you're not a mint fan, or you won't find enough uses to justify growing it at home? Think again. Mint is palate cleansing and as we all know, good for your breath. If nothing else, you can take a leaf, rinse it off and nosh on it after a heavy meal or before you're going to get close to someone. But, it's amazing in recipes from smoothies and shakes to iced and hot tea; from yogurt to pasta and any salad you please.