Herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used to flavor or garnish food.
Another way of defining herbs is an herbaceous plant lacking a woody stem and dies to the ground each winter. Any way you chose to define herbs, they are easy to grow and make a great addition to meals and beverages.
Most herbs require sunshine, so pick a spot that receives a generous amount of sun. At least six hours of sunlight is essential for healthy growth. The ideal location may differ according to the specific herb. Some herbs like it hot while others prefer a bit of shade. Most herbs are fine in traditional garden soil, but there are a few Mediterranean plants that need a well-drained, sandy soil. These include bay, rosemary, and lavender. Make sure to check and see what your plants prefer and group those together.
Some herbs are annuals such as basil, cilantro, and dill. Cilantro and dill will self-sow and return the following year. Other herbs are perennial including oregano, sage, and chives. Incorporating herbs in your landscape is a creative way to have an herb garden without having a designated space. I have successfully established cilantro, chamomile, and dill patches in various locations in my landscape. I use thyme and oregano as ground cover in other areas. My mint plant gracefully softens an awkward corner by the blueberries with its drooping branches and coarsely textured leaves.
Some of my favorite herbs are basil and parsley, which I use to make pesto in the warm summer evenings. The Kentucky Derby race would not be the same without fresh mint from the garden for the mint juleps. I harvest sage and rosemary every fall to use for cooking throughout the winter. Herbs bring flavor, color, and texture to your landscape and meals.
Spaghetti and Spinach Pesto
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti, uncooked (or your favorite pasta uncooked)
1 package 10-oz frozen spinach, thawed, well drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup basil
2 tablespoons butter or tub margarine
1/3 cup water
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese or parmesan cheese
1. Before you begin, wash your hands, surfaces, and utensils.
2. Use a colander to drain and squeeze spinach. Discard liquid.
3. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine spinach, oil, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and basil. Mix at medium speed until finely chopped.
4. Melt margarine and water in microwave safe bowl (approximately 15-20 seconds). While the blender or processor is running, gradually pour in melted mixture until blended.
5. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta in colander and return to pan.
6. Stir pesto in cooked pasta. Top with feta or additional Parmesan cheese.
Spaghetti and spinach pasta is a great base recipe to make your own meal. You can easily add in grilled chicken and diced tomatoes to make a balanced healthy meal. You can also use this recipe with any pasta you have in the pantry and can even serve it cold for a different take on pasta salad.
This recipe was adapted from a choosemyplate.gov recipe and submitted by Jennifer Eggleton, OSU Extension Greene County, SNAP-Ed program assistant.