It is highly rewarding to have an herb garden. Not only can you use fresh herbs in your cooking whenever you feel like it, you can also dry them for use in the winter. Rosemary, oregano, mint and chives are all perennials so once you put them in the ground, you'll have them forever. I decided to blog about herbs because of 420 Day this month. That's the day every year (at least in the US) when people who smoke herbs (marijuana) celebrate the weed and protest against its illegality. NOTE: I do not smoke marijuana but I love herbs.
So far this year, I've dried Rosemary, oregano, mint and basil. I'm trying to fill up little glass jars so when I cleared out the garden yesterday (some of the varieties can take off like weeds) I put some more out to dry.
Rosemary (left), oregano (right)
When drying herbs (I learned this from my grandma!), just rinse and pat dry, then place in bundles and wrap with a rubber band. Hang them upside down and wait patiently for a week. When the leaves are dry, put them in a jar with a lid on tightly. You can also dry herbs in the microwave or oven but that takes a little more effort.
Cooking with dry herbs is just as easy as cooking with fresh herbs. Just remember to crush them up a bit before adding to the pot to release the oil. That adds more flavor.
I read in a cooking article by Linda Larsen on About.com that "the ratio for using dried herbs to fresh herbs is 1:3. So, if a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of fresh basil, and you only have dried, use 1 teaspoon."
Last night I made homemade tomato sauce for spaghetti using leftover ham. It was tasty with the addition of fresh oregano and fresh garlic chives. (Chives do not dry well but come back every year if you plant them in the ground.)
1 can diced tomatoes with oregano, onion
1 can tomato soup
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced ham
2 large garlic cloves
2 T fresh garlic chives
2 T fresh oregano
2 T olive oil
1/2 c water
fresh cracked pepper
Coat pan with olive oil. Chop onion, add to oil. Smash and chop garlic, add to onion and oil. (Tip - I always add about 1 T of water so the garlic won't brown.) Add a tiny bit of salt to sweat the onions. Add meat (pork works nicely because the fat cooks the garlic and onions just a bit and gives great flavor). When hot, pour in can of tomatoes with juice and can of tomato soup. Add a 1/4 cup water and simmer.
Prepare pasta. Mix pasta and sauce in the pan to coat. Top with salt (not too much, the soup/ham provide a salty taste), cracked pepper and fresh oregano. Serves 2.