As long as I have been cooking I have had an herb garden, sometimes in pots, sometimes in the ground. I always thought of herbs as something one grew or purchased. At least I thought that until we moved to Andorra. Our 'Monday Walks' in the mountains had a rather dramatic effect on me: I went from drinking bottled water and only eating herbs I carefully grew or purchased to drinking on my knees from a stream and picking the herbs wild in the mountains. If one were careful one could even dig up the wild herbs and bring them down the mountain for planting closer to the kitchen (this was illegal – wild flowers and plants of all kinds are protected in Andorra). Plus there were so many edible things that I'd never even heard of and/or didn't know you could eat. (Finding a slug or snail on your food is a good thing – it means no pesticides were used in the growing.)
We had almost year-round access to thyme, oregano, and rosemary. I'm not quite so lucky here in the Vendee – my rosemary and winter savory are edible all year but nothing else. I freeze lots from my garden for use in the winter but I gave up drying them. It was too much work for the small amounts I use dry so I'm back to the little glass bottles. But sometimes a recipe really needs the flavor from dried herbs rather than the fresh or frozen.
Baked Chicken Breasts with Creamy Balsamic Sauce Time: 30 minutes
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
3 tbs ricotta cheese
1 tbs good olive oil
Put chicken breasts in small glass baking dish, 9" square (22.5cm). Add garlic to dish. Pour vinegar over chicken and sprinkle with herbs. Bake in 375F (190C) oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Put chicken on a cutting board and cover to keep warm. Peel garlic and put into a small dish. Mash with a fork. (If it doesn't mash easily, use a garlic crusher.) Add pan juices and mash together. Add cheese and mix well. Slowly mix in olive oil. Sauce will be very thick. Slice chicken. Spoon some sauce over and serve, remaining sauce on the side.
I always use dried herbs in slow-cooking soups and stews, but finish the dish with a couple of fozen herb cubes – just to remind me that spring will come, eventually.
I just noticed that my chives are starting to grow….there's hope!
Thanks for being the host Ulrike! Be sure to check her blog Kuchenlatein for the recap of all of the wonderful recipes on Monday. Bon Weekend!