Basil – Use sweet basil to compliment summer tomato dishes or add it to fresh corn sautéed with just a touch of butter. Tear the leaves of lemon basil and mix with olive oil, garlic, capers, sea salt and freshly ground pepper for a simple marinade or sauce to use with grilled fish or chicken. Tearing basil instead of using a knife to cut it will prevent the bright green leaves from darkening.
Oregano – There are two main varieties of oregano, and Mexican. Mediterranean oregano is in the mint family and it goes well with Mediterranean dishes, just like basil. Mexican oregano is in the lemon verbena family and it has a citrus-like flavor that compliments the flavor of chilies and the spice cumin.
Cilantro – Cilantro is used in many Mexican and Asian dishes. Stir fresh chopped cilantro into mashed avocado with chopped Roma tomates, onions, fresh jalapeno, a squeeze of lime juice and a few pinches of sea salt and pepper for a delicious guacamole and have a Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Chives – With a mild onion flavor, add chives to lemon vinaigrette and toss with cooked baby potatoes that have been cut in half. Add chopped celery and dill for a light version of potato salad. Snipping chives with scissors is the best way to cut them into pieces. The plants pink blossoms make a beautiful garnish.
Mint – Muddle mint leaves to make a Mojito or Mint Juleps. Mint will take over your garden, so plant it in a container by itself where you can control its growth. Chop mint leaves and scallions and add them to Greek yogurt with some garlic, salt and pepper. Serve the yogurt sauce with grilled lamb.
Dill – Marinate salmon filets for about a hour before grilling in a wet rub made from lots of chopped dill, garlic, lemon zest, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. I've found that dill needs a lot of sun and does better planted in large containers or in the garden.
Tarragon – Tarragon has a mild licorice flavor that goes very well with chicken, fish, or eggs. Chop French tarragon leaves and add them to deviled eggs or make the classic French butter sauce, beurre blanc and add some chopped tarragon. Serve the beurre blanc with grilled halibut, sea bass or artichokes.
Iced Tea Mint Juleps
Lighter than a traditional julep, serve this refreshing drink on warm summer days or put on a hat and enjoy one this Saturday while watching the Kentucky Derby
8 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup superfine sugar, more or less
1 cup good quality bourbon
3 cups iced tea (I use Tea Java)
1 lemon, sliced
A few mint sprigs
Ice cubes, mint sprigs and lemon slices
Place 8 mint leaves and sugar in a pitcher and muddle them with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the bourbon, tea, lemon slices and mint spring. Chill until ready to serve. Serve the drinks in glasses over ice, garnished with mint sprigs and lemon slices.