Fresh Herbs…Try Growing Your Own This Summer

20 06 2014

Do you want to know one of my favorite things about summer? The fact that I can grow fresh herbs right outside my kitchen door. I would love to grow a whole garden full of beautiful

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

vegetables, but the fact is, I live in the woods, and adequate sunshine is not a guarantee. But on my little stoop outside the kitchen door, the afternoon sun peeking through the trees is perfect for growing pots of flavorful herbs for my everyday cooking.

Herbs not only smell amazing and provide robust flavors for cooking, they are also fairly easy to grow. I like to plant mine in flower pots filled with a good garden or potting soil, but you can plant them in your garden or in your flower beds. Some herbs grow very quickly and spread (like mint), so you may want to contain them in their own little area. Potted herbs require very little time and energy, perfect for a busy schedule like mine! I like the fact that I can water them, prune them and snip off exactly what I need only a few steps from my sink and stove top. No buying them in bunches at the store in amounts that I will never use before they wilt before my eyes. I like to grow things like sweet basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, oregano, rosemary and cilantro, but there are so many more than this! Many herbs have multiple varieties, like lemon basil, banana mint, and Greek, Mexican and Italian oregano. All have their own different flavors. I find that for the cooking I do, the basics are covered with what I grow. Things that I use much less often I purchase in dried form.

Where we live I can count on my herbs lasting well into the fall. I have even had my parsley and rosemary survive the winter outside on occasion! How nice that was! Luckily, there are also ways that you can dry your herbs or even freeze them so nothing goes to waste. Near the end of the growing season, harvest what is left of your fresh herbs for drying or freezing for the winter months. Check out these two videos to see how!

One of my favorite summer herbs is sweet Italian Basil. I literally pick it almost daily to add to recipes or to simply top a quick Caprese sandwich made of good Italian bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, a big slice of fresh tomato and a little drizzle of olive oil….delicious! Bruschetta is another wonderful combination of fresh tomato, onion, basil, garlic and olive oil that can be used for dipping pita or bread, topping appetizers, or topping chicken or fish. Check out these great recipes for Bruschetta Chicken and Caprese Avocado Salad….your family will love them!


Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Serves 4

o    4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves

o    1/2 cup Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

o    2 tomatoes, finely chopped

o    1 clove garlic, minced

o    Fresh ground pepper to taste

o    1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

o    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves


  1. Place a large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; heat grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup dressing and seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing. Refrigerate 10 minutes (I marinate it all day if I remember in time). Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.
  2. Grill chicken on uncovered side of grill for about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 dressing, tomatoes, cheese and basil.
  3. Turn the chicken over and place cooked-side up, on foil on the grill. Top with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill 8 minutes or until chicken is done.
  4. You can add a splash of balsalmic vinegar to give it a bit more zip.


*Notes: If you don’t want to grill your chicken, you can bake it in a baking dish in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, top with bruschetta mixture and bake for another 8 minutes. Check that internal temperature has reached 165 degrees.


Nutrition Facts per serving: 211 calories, 7g fat, 6g carbohydrate, 27g protein and 431mg sodium

Source: adapted from Kraft Foods and



Caprese Avocado Salad:






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