Nothing helps your recipes sing better than fresh herbs – whether it’s basil leaves torn and sprinkled on juicy tomatoes or rosemary tucked around a sizzling leg of lamb.
They’re easy to grow either indoors or out, and a row of potted herbs on your windowsill will keep your kitchen supplied with everything you need to elevate your cooking from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
A herb bed is an attractive and fragrant addition to any garden, but make sure herbs like mint and rosemary are kept contained as they will soon take over a small bed.
But having easy access to fresh herbs doesn’t require a big garden – or even a garden all, as most herbs are easily grown indoors. With fresh basil, thyme, parsley, chives, mint, and rosemary close at hand, your home cooking will never taste better.
Keep a pot of basil in your windowsill and pinch off the fragrant leaves to tear over fresh tomatoes, add at the last minute to bolognese, or blend with garlic, oil, pine nuts and parmesan to make your own fresh pesto. Basil loves sunshine, so find a warm, light spot in the kitchen where it will thrive, or plant in pots and keep on a sunny patio or balcony.
Incredibly versatile, thyme is a key ingredient for savoury dishes from all over the world. Its tiny leaves and mass of delicate white, pink or pale lilac flowers make it a pretty houseplant, too. Pot in a fast-draining soil mix, place in a sunny window, and water when the soil is dry.
Perfect with new potatoes or roast lamb, mint is very easy to grow and will spread through your garden with ease if not contained. It makes an attractive houseplant, and there are dozens of varieties available from spearmint and peppermint to apple and lemon.
These narrow spiky strands add a mild onion kick to soups and salads. Use scissors to snip over new potatoes or eggs and give the plant a regular ‘crew cut’ to tidy up floppy leaves and encourage new growth.
A favourite garnish, parsley also adds fresh flavour to sauces, salads, soups and stuffing. Choose flat-leaf or curly and grow in a deep pot in front of a well-lit window.
These fragrant silvery needles are perfect paired with roast lamb but are also delicious used in other ways – blend with garlic, oil and seasoning and use to cover tiny new potatoes before roasting in the oven. Rosemary will thrive in sunny conditions in the summer but also does well in the winter as long as it has good light.