Despite having self proclaimed "black thumbs," I have to say we're elated at the growth of our potted herb garden. In just the few short weeks since we completed our planting, our wide variety of herbs have really grown by leaps and bounds. One might say our herbs are ginormous. (Yes, that's a technical term.)
Here's what they looked like last month after planting them....
...and here's a shot of them today.
Wowza! Planted in these decorative ceramic pots in our small urban backyard are the following:
- Two basil plants (my personal favorite)
Although we're relishing in our success up to this point, I must admit that we're not completely sure how we'll use our newfound supply of fresh herbs, especially given that they all will be used in vegetarian dishes. (Alex is a vegetarian, so we only prepare/eat vegetarian dishes at home.) In particular, the sage and oregano present the biggest challenge for us, but we're off to a good start.
I recently made a delicious quinoa salad, recipe below, complemented by an ample supply of fresh chives and basil. If you're looking for a healthy and easy recipe to use some of the fresh herbs you may be growing in your garden this year, I promise you this one's a winner.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, rinsed
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp. chopped chives (more or less to taste)
- Optional: 2 tbsp. chopped basil (more or less to taste) or other herb of your liking
Note: Never heard of quinoa? Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a grain popular in South American cuisine and has a very mild, nutty flavor. It's very high in protein, is a good source of fiber, and is gluten free. We eat a lot of it at home in vegetarian dishes as a way to get ample protein. You can find it at most grocery stores these days, including places like Trader Joe's and Costco. If you can't find quinoa or you don't like it, you could swap it out for couscous in this recipe.
- Put quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve or fine strainer. Place under cold running water until water runs clear (this eliminates the bitter taste contained in quinoa's coating); drain well. (Or you can buy certain brands of quinoa that are pre-rinsed.)
- Place rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of cold water; bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the grains are translucent and the germ has come out of each grain, about 15 minutes. Cover and remove from heat; let sit for 5 minutes.
- Spoon quinoa into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half. Set tomatoes aside.
- Now it's time for the fun part! Raid your garden for fresh herbs. In this case, the recipe calls for 2 tbsp. fresh chives. So I headed out back with my kitchen shears, and snipped away at the chives until I was satisfied with the quantity. I also noticed how well my basil is doing, so I opted to throw a little of that in today as well.
- In a small bowl or vessel, combine oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- When quinoa is at room temperature, stir in tomatoes.
- Add vinaigrette and fresh herbs and toss again. And voila! You have a quick, easy, light and tasty summer salad on your hands.
Yields about four 1 1/4 cups per serving. This recipe can easily be doubled for holidays, picnics, and entertaining.
Chives and basil aren't your thing? Swap them out for an herb you like or something you may have growing in your garden.
This summer we're bound and determined to make the most of what our garden is offering up. Alex and I will be researching yummy recipes and delicious uses for all of our herbs.
Do you have a favorite herb from your garden that you've been enjoying so far this season? Do you have a vegetarian recipe for the "uncommon herbs" that you'd like to share? We're always up for trying out a light and fresh warm weather salad.