Herbs & BBQ: Fresh Herbs for Your Cookout
We all know and love summer by its other name – Grilling Season. The days are long, and the 4th of July has us in a cookout and BBQ mood. We know that “fresh from the garden” flavor is a treat that can’t be beat in the store, but I’m here to remind you that it’s not just limited to fruits and veggies! Once you’ve started using your own garden herbs, you won’t ever want to go back to store-bought. And I can tell you, fresh herbs are just as delicious on the grill as they are in the kitchen.
Grow Your Own at Home
Growing your own herbs is an all-around win! They look beautiful, will thrive in nearly any sunny spot, and the more you take to cook with, the more enthusiastically your plant will grow! It helps that the best flavor comes from the newest growth – so don’t be shy about grazing for your dinner!
Every plant has its limits for how quickly it can grow your next serving. When you’re pinching off for a meal, take a quarter of the foliage, at maximum. Most herbs will keep growing to give your superb flavor for 3 years or more – that’s a lot of tasty food! After your plant matures and its flavor starts to change you can always keep it as a pretty ornamental plant, and grab a new one for cooking.
Rosemary is the king of herbs and boy, does it seem to know it. This proud Mediterranean native can grow several feet high if you nurture it right. It boasts an earthy, savory flavor that pairs well with nearly anything. I like to use it when I’m cooking pork, chicken, potatoes, and even beef. The flavors get released the more they’re cooked, so be sure you include it while grilling for the best taste.
Some people use the whole branch as a fashionable garnish on their meal, but beware that the stem is woody and not meant to be eaten. Peel the leaves off before you eat (or even before you cook!) for a more functional flavor.
Sprinkled for flavor: Adding a sprinkle of rosemary will make basically anything on the barbeque taste better. Chop it up and sprinkle over your veggies, potatoes, fish, poultry, meat, or burgers like tasty confetti. The intense heat of the grill will help release the flavor as you cook.
Rosemary marinade: Rosemary is a great spice alone, but can also be part of a fantastic marinade! For a more subtle texture, chop up the leaves finely, then blend with lots of olive oil, garlic, some balsamic vinegar and whatever other spices you want. Soak your pork chops or potatoes for a few hours and get grilling!
Kebabs: To make better use of the whole plant, I’ve soaked the stems overnight after removing the leaves. They made a fun kebab skewer that infused flavor from the inside out!
Most of us are familiar with thyme as a winter staple. It’s a treat whenever its flavor is added to soups and roasted meats. In the summer, however, it will boost the taste of your barbeque fish, veggies, and chicken.
Thyme is a stunning plant. It will elegantly spill out of its container and look amazing even as you tear off the odd fistful to cook with. It will add cool Mediterranean vibes to your garden with its tiny silvery green leaves. Not just a pretty face, though, thyme is hardy and tough, so you’ll barely need to look after it.
Lemon and Thyme: The fine leaves easily peel off the branch, so you’re saved a lot of the work of chopping. This herb tastes phenomenal with lemon. A great summer dish I love is lemon chicken. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and thyme. Soak your chicken for a few hours before grilling for juicy chicken breasts full of delightful summer flavor.
Garlic and Thyme: Another powerful flavor duo, garlic and thyme are core flavors in some of my other favorite summer dishes. I love mixing these flavors together on potatoes or steaks, which are brought to the next level on the grill.
Basting Brushes: We’ve all used a brush or spoon to spread our barbeque sauce. That’s so boring! Instead, try mixing a few full sprigs of your favorite garden herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, or even lavender. Bunch these tightly together (you can alsof tie them if you need) and use them as a new herbal barbeque brush. As you use this to spread sauce, your dish will get infused with the flavor of fresh herbs, instead of just the taste of the sauce.
“One Skillet Lemon Thyme Chicken” by Foodista on flickr
Growing your own herbs at home is great because you not only have access to the best flavor right in your backyard, but the easy access means you can be more creative with your food. I promise that using your own herbs will have your family and friends raving about flavor, and it’ll make turning on the grill for some delicious barbeque that much easier all summer.
Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply
I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child.
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me. The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!) Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.