2015-07-09 / From The Garden

Four Must-Have Herbs for the Summer Garden

By Cynthia Gibson

Italian parsley Italian parsley We have some time to go before we see a tomato or an eggplant. But even if you planted basil only last week, the leaves should already be large enough to harvest and call your own. Snip or pinch off the larger leaves and discard (they will be quite strong). The smaller leaves are always sweeter, not quite as pungent and great for pesto.

Lazy Man’s Pesto (recipe below) is perfect for brushing on fish or chicken before placing it on the grill. This simple mixture is also excellent placed inside a goat cheese omelet for brunch.

Another herb excellent for roasting, yet with a strong fragrance, is rosemary. All common rosemary grows in an upright fashion. Only rosemary prostratus, or creeping rosemary, lies flat and twists. Rosemary also winters well in a south facing sunny window.

Adding rosemary to a tinfoil package of sliced new potatoes with olive oil, placed on the grill and cooked is divine. If you are not fond of grilling, place the potatoes, olive oil and rosemary leaves in a casserole dish and place it in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Your home will be wafting with the aroma of Tuscany.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Parsley is typically grown for garnish and helps tame the pungent basil leaves when making pesto. It is not only a pretty herb, but tastes good too. Chopping a half-cup of Italian or curly parsley and adding it to a salad will give an everyday salad a clean, fresh taste.

Mint is another herb hard to live without during the summer. Not only is it a key ingredient in juleps, it is delicious with cucumbers vinaigrette, white bean Turkish salad or perfection in the ubiquitous glass of iced tea.

Mint is tricky when planting it in the ground; it is invasive beyond belief. The tip for growing mint successfully is to place the four-inch pot it usually comes in into a ten-inch pot. Fill the larger pot with potting soil and then put plant, pot and all in the ground. The second larger pot will contain the traveling roots of your mint plant for at least two years. After two years dig up the ten-inch pot and place it in either a larger pot and replant it or dig up the old pot and trim off most of the new roots and replant. Either way this process will help to avoid the mint from having unwanted legs!

These four herbs are so versatile, it is hard to live and cook without them. It is still not too late to start an herb pot or plant in your garden.

Lazy Man's Pesto

1 cup basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food
processor or blender and purée.
It is as simple as that. I make it
by the jar and keep it in the refrigerator. The pesto will last for
at least three weeks if the lid on
the jar is kept tight.

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