Patio Herbs

September 12, 2022 | Christine Hradek

herbs growing in a planter box

I live in a small house with just a little bit of outdoor space. In the summer, I try to maximize that space by filling it with pots of flowers, vegetables and herbs. Fresh herbs are something I do not buy at the grocery store very often because they are expensive and often spoil before I can get the package used. So, I see fresh herbs as a seasonal treat I can enjoy from late spring through early fall when I’m growing them. I use dried herbs the rest of the year. Today I would like to share how I use the herbs I grow. Most years I grow basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary. I also grow cherry tomatoes in a big flower pot.

  • Basil: Because basil grows fast and its flavor changes if the plant is not cut often, I try to use my basil most days. I love to cut up cherry tomatoes from my plant and top them with torn basil and cottage cheese. I am not ashamed to say I eat this almost every day in the summer! Basil is also delicious added to a pasta dish, tomato based sauce or soup at the end of cooking.
  • Parsley: To me, parsley is just about the most flexible herb. It is good on so many things. I love it chopped up in salads, it is great on scrambled eggs and it brings a nice freshness when added to pasta or baked dishes like casseroles when they’re finished cooking. It is a very tasty addition to Chickpea Salad!
  • Rosemary and Thyme: I grouped these two because I almost always use them together. Unlike basil and parsley, I add rosemary and thyme to foods before they cook rather than at the end. I love roasted potatoes tossed with rosemary and thyme before they go in the oven. Rosemary and thyme are also a delicious addition to stew or slow cooked meats and roasts. These two herbs are very fragrant, so I also cut a little bundle each week to put on my desk. I just love the scent.

If you would like to preserve your herbs to use after the season ends, our friends at the University of Minnesota Extension have a guide to freezing and drying herbs on their website. As we transition into fall, I hope you have had the chance to enjoy some delicious summer foods!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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