Column: Always make room in the kitchen for fresh herbs

Now that spring is well underway, so are the herbs in my garden.

Now that spring is well underway, so are the herbs in my garden.

I use them as much as possible and with all kinds of foods.

Fresh herbs are great for garnishes and they provide bold flavour.

They have great aromatic qualities and work very well for roasting and sautéing, or for chopping and mixing into foods such as mashed potatoes. Yum!

Dried herbs are best when used with oil (or butter, fat) or water -—this way they can infuse the oil or cooking liquid.  Make sure to crush the herbs with your fingers or sauté them a bit to wake them up. Crushing a bunch of them in a mortar and pestle also works very well.

I tend to use more when I use a dried herb. Most dried herbs lose a significant amount of spunk when dried — especially basil, oregano and sage. Rosemary and thyme hold up a little better.

Sage can help treat fevers and headaches, parsley is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Rosemary helps boost the immune system.

Basil goes well with tomatoes, cheeses, pork, Asian cooking and is good in pasta.

Dill is great with potatoes, and many kinds of shellfish and seafood. Ginger is often used in stir fry, marinades and ginger tea.

Mint is also good in tea, fruit salads, lamb and pork.

Store fresh herbs in ziplock bags and keep in the fridge where they last longer. Food always seems better and smells better when using herbs.

I use dried herbs I have plucked from my fall garden, however, using other than fresh herbs in the spring is almost sacrosanct.

Here is a neat little chicken dish using herbs and cooked on barbecue.

Chicken and Herbs

• 3 or 4 whole chicken legs — thighs and leg attached. (Can use breasts also)

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 1 tsp sea salt

• 1/4 tsp of black ground pepper

• 2 tbsp lemon juice

• 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 1 tbsp. each of chives, oregano, rosemary and thyme

Put barbecue on medium heat.

Put chicken in a bowl, add oil along with salt and pepper and after being coated put them on a grill turning occasionally until deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

While still hot, toss the chicken in a large bowl with lemon juice, mustard, chives, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Serve.

Take some time this spring to do a little cooking with wonderful herbs.

Bye for now and Goood Cooking.

Ken Wilson is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.

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