Herbs: A fresh idea for your garden

Published 4:08 pm Saturday, June 2, 2012

Planting herbs in the garden is a great way to add fresh flavor to your meals. And the whole family can get involved in the process, providing a sensory education right in the garden.

The fun thing about herbs in the garden is that, just by smelling them, you can imagine what types of foods would pair well with them.

By adding flavor to your meals through herbs, you can liven up the flavor without excess salt. Here is a listing of some common herbs and their uses. Get out and grow them this year.


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Basil is used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. Add fresh or dried basil to salads and pasta dishes.  Chopped fresh basil is also excellent paired with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil and a little pepper.



Oregano is also known as the “pizza herb.” Oregano and basil together give Italian foods a very nice flavor.  Besides its use in pasta dishes, this herb can also be added to egg dishes. Try sprinkling oregano on scrambled eggs instead of salt. Dried oregano can also be added to chicken and meat rubs.


Chilies have woodsy and warm flavors that will add a whole new dimension to even the most humble dish. Large chilies are milder, while small chilies are hottest.  Chilies can be paired with seafood, eggs, poultry or meat as marinades, sauces or rubs.


Rosemary is an herb that works nicely with any cut of meat. It is also great sautéed with a little olive oil and vegetables. Try adding rosemary to potato dishes.


Parsley is often thought of as a garnish, but this herb can do much more than that. Chopped fresh parsley can be added to mashed potatoes, blended into marinades or mixed into salads.


There will be a Sprouts – Get Out and Grow Kids Garden and cooking class focused specifically on herbs on June 21. Here is the full schedule.

Classes are for all kids ages 3 to 11 years old (under 6 bring a parent):

•June 20: Grow the Rainbow, 2 to 3 p.m.

•June 21: Kid-Friendly Herbs, 2 to 3 p.m.

•June 27: Windowsill Salads, 2 to 3 p.m.

Register via Austin Community Education by calling 460-1704.

One important tip when cooking with herbs is that the fresh-to-dried herb ratio is 2-to-1.  For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon dried herb, then use two tablespoons of the fresh herb.

Below is a great summertime recipe using herbs.

Grilled Greek pizza

Grilled Greek pizza

Serves 4

All you need

•1 thin-crust pre-baked pizza crust

•2 tbsp Grand Selections garlic-flavored olive oil

•1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil

•3 green onions, sliced

•2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped

•1 cup Hy-Vee reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

•1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese

•1 (2.25 oz) can Hy-Vee sliced ripe olives, drained

 All you do

1. Preheat grill to medium heat.

2. Place pizza crust direction over grill grate; brush evenly with olive oil. Cook 3-5 minutes; flip crust and brush remaining side with oil.

3. Sprinkle crust evenly with basil, green onion, tomato, cheeses and olives.

4.  Close grill lid and let cook 5-10 minutes or until crust begins to brown and cheeses melt.


Nutrition Facts per serving: 360 calories, 16 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 15 g protein.

Daily Values: 20% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C, 35% calcium, 15% iron