Spring has sprung! In honor of Earth Day and for your culinary enjoyment, let’s chat about growing herbs. You don’t get more bang for your buck than planting an herb garden. Have you seen how expensive a bundle of fresh basil or dill is at the grocery store? It’s crazy! For nearly the same price you can buy a live plant and enjoy a continuous harvest throughout the growing season and dried or frozen herbs all winter.
Even more economical than buying plants is starting your herb garden from seed. Many herbs happily grow from seed; basil, chives, dill and parsley, to mention a few. Find some gardening buddies and share seeds or seedlings to increase the variety of plants in your garden.
Many herbs are so happy to grow from seed they will self-sow, saving you time and money in the future. Recently, I had parsley self-seed with such enthusiasm it was quite literally in every bed in my garden. Luckily, I love parsley. If you find yourself with an enthusiastic plant, just snip off the flower heads before they set seed. Or better yet, share your abundance with friends.
Did you know that you can use EBT benefits to purchase seeds? That’s right! If you receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you can use your EBT card to buy seeds and plants that produce food. This means you can grow your own fruits and vegetables and save money in the long run.
Another great reason to plant an herb garden is that it can be a fun family activity to plant and tend the garden together. It’s a wonderful learning experience, especially for children. Not only do they get to see the seeds germinate and grow into plants, but they can also learn about different types of herbs and their uses in cooking and beyond.
What to do with all those fresh herbs, you ask? Make chimichurri.
This classic Argentinean green sauce is used to accompany grilled steak, but it’s also great with chicken, pork, vegetables, eggs or as a marinade for meat. The measurements are flexible. Use this as a place to begin, adjusting the recipe until it delights your taste buds.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Total Time: 15 minutes
2 cups parsley (or 1 cup each parsley and cilantro)
3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used a combo of purple and green onions)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Measure 2 packed cups of the washed leaves and tender stems of parsley and/or cilantro. (I love that we can use stems in this recipe! They’re so flavorful, and they’re often discarded.) In your food processor, process the garlic and onion until chopped. Add the herbs and process until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper flakes, and process until combined. Let sit at least 10 minutes for flavors to meld. If making ahead of time, cover tightly (imagine that raw garlic and onion invading your fridge!) and chill until ready to use. Leftover sauce can be kept refrigerated for a week.
In conclusion, having fresh herbs on hand can make even the simplest of dishes feel gourmet. So why not grow your own herb garden and never pay for expensive herbs again? Your taste buds (and wallet) will thank you!
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at email@example.com
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