Take your meal to the next level with fresh herbs!

Creating the perfect meal isn’t just a matter of following a recipe, but knowing what and how to combine them.  Part art, part science, the culinary arts are truly a melding of style and substance, and the right ingredients are the first substance you need to concern yourself with.  The herbs you buy at the store are dried out, losing much of their natural flavor, and often they are months old when you buy them, and then sit in your cupboard for up to years later.  Over all this time you’re losing flavor and quality, and in some cases they end up with little more flavor than wood-shavings.

 

The barrier that stands in the way of many people taking advantage of the delight of fresh herbs is a lack of a place to grow them.  While you can buy fresh herbs in many produce sections, they don’t last long once brought home and placed in the fridge, so what to do when you want to start cooking with them on a regular basis?  Why, grow your own of course!  Whether you live in a house on a small plot in town or an apartment in the big city, there are lots of ways you can grow your own fresh herbs in your home.

 

jar of herbs with water

Photo courtesy of Flickr by  Linh H. Nguyen

 

For instance, if your apartment has windows, you can grow all sorts of herbs in small window boxes.  These are often available from local home and garden stores, and can be hung from the window frame without the use of screws or any other invasive securing hardware.  Then you can take a few choice herbs and plant them in the window, with a simple daily habit of watering them and a little care, you can have fresh herbs growing right by your window, ready to prepare some of the most delicious food you’ve ever put in your mouth!

 

pots on ledge with herbs

Image courtesy of Flickr by Maggie Hoffman

 

If your home has a  sunroom in it, you’ve got an even better option.  There is nothing that brings life to a room like lots of natural light and that hint of the outdoors that comes with vibrant indoor plants.  Along with a warm and comfortable environment with plush furniture and rich verdant soil, you’ll be able to grow a ton of herbs in your home, safe from insect infestations and the vagaries of weather.  Herbs grown in a conservatory add a rich and delicious tapestry to the dishes you can serve, and it certainly allows you to grow a respectably sized herb garden in your home.

 

Never underestimate the boost that quality fresh herbs can bring to your cooking, the difference it makes to your palette can be truly astounding.  Fresh herbs have brighter flavors, fresher taste, and even add a wonderful visual element to the food you prepare.  In the case of herbs like rosemary and thyme, even the slightly woody nature brings something to the dish, giving a bit of mouth feel you won’t find with the crumbly and flaky herbs you find in your seasoning section at the grocery store.

 

That said, I would now like to share with you one of my favorite recipes, that would not be half as delicious without the freshly picked herbs that go into it. It is very little work, smells incredible, and is low in cholesterol and high in protein, to boot! Who could ask for more?

 

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter

 

trout prepared with herbs

Photo courtesy of Flickr by epicxero

 

Ingredients:

4 trouts, cleaned and gutted

Sea salt, pepper

4 tablespoons softened butter

3 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons each fresh coarsely chopped thyme, sage and parsley

1 tablespoon fresh coarsely chopped basil

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sweet paprika

 

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the fish, then rub salt, some basil and pepper well into each one, inside and out. Divide the remaining herbs evenly and stuff each fish with them. Cover pan or dish with foil wrap, and put in refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Put garlic though garlic press, then add to softened butter; combine well.
  3. Put a tablespoon of garlic butter inside each fish and drizzle fish with lemon juice, dust lightly with paprika if desired.
  4. Wrap each fish tightly in foil wrap and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. If you like, you can tie the fish with a bit of string (not plastic, natural!) to keep them from coming open when you wrap them in foil.
  5. Unpack each fish carefully, serve with a slice of lemon, a baked potato and a simple cherry tomato salad.

 

 

– Article By: Contributing Writer Nicole Nowlen