Flavorful Herbs Enhance Summer Dishes

Herbs fresh from the garden add layers of taste to both cooked and raw foods.

Citrus Rounds With Mint on White Plate

Citrus and Mint Salad

This garden-fresh citrus salad is a refreshing and light addition to the richer dishes on the table. Arrange the orange and grapefruit slices in a pattern with a few sprigs of mint on a white platter.

Photo by: Wynn Myers

Wynn Myers

The thought of summer cuisine often brings to mind flavorful grilled steaks and chicken, light tasty sauces and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. Using herbs to further enhance these savory favorites is an easy and enjoyable project.

A clay marker is displayed in a basil plant.

Create Clay Garden Markers

Learn how to create these delightful garden markers from bakeable clay to add to your garden indoors and out.

Photo by: Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey


Basil is a great addition to summer salads and makes a tasty garnish for fish, chicken and vegetable dishes; it's also a key ingredient in pesto sauce. To properly harvest fresh basil, simply pinch off a small sprig, stem and all, just above a set of leaves. Gradually removing sprigs in this manner helps keep the plant healthy and encourages new growth.


A traditional companion to tomatoes, oregano is one of the main herbs in many spaghetti-sauce recipes; it's also great for sprinkling on pizza . But don't stop there. In addition to adding this herb to cooked fare, use it with fresh foods as well. For example: Slice up a dozen or so fresh garden-grown tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and dust with newly harvested oregano leaves for a mouth-watering treat.

Gather the Ingredients

Gather the Ingredients

You will need: Store bought pie crust or 1 batch of your favorite butter pastry crust recipe / 2 tablespoons olive oil / 3 leeks / small bunch of fresh dill / 6 eggs, at room temperature / 3/4 cup half and half / 1/2 teaspoon salt / 1/4 teaspoon black pepper / 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese.


Dill actually has two parts that are used for cooking: the seeds and the weed. The seeds are used primarily as aesthetic accents since they don't add as much flavor as the weed. Dill weed makes a great flavoring for grilled fish: simply tear it into small sprigs and sprinkle on the fish prior to grilling.

Lavender Honey

Lavender Honey

Lavender adds a delicate floral note to honey and works wonders in teas, on breads and in cookies. Place your dried lavender in a jar and fill with honey. Let sit up to 2 weeks, turning the jar occasionally to be sure the lavender stays covered with honey. When you are happy with the flavor strain out the dried lavender and enjoy!


A popular ingredient in potpourri and aromatherapy, lavender boasts a number of culinary uses as well. This fragrant herb makes a delectable garnish for fresh fruit salad.

Iced Mint Juleps With Mint Sprigs

Mint Juleps

A tasty treat for horse-racing aficionados or simply a gathering of friends, this Mint Julep is worthy of Kentucky gentry.


It's common knowledge that mint and chocolate make a great team (think mint-chocolate-chip ice cream), but have you ever thought of garnishing your homemade chocolate treats with fresh mint sprigs from your herb garden? This taste experience is one you won't soon forget.


Besides providing a sturdy, traffic-resistant groundcover in the yard, thyme also makes a delicious complement to an array of foods. Clip a few sprigs off the plant and toss them into a marinade before adding it to meat.

Shortbread on Plate with Cup of Tea

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread

Browned butter and rosemary partner up to make a delicious afternoon snack that's perfect with tea.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe


A favorite of chefs the world over, rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs in the garden. In addition to its many traditional uses, it also makes a perfect basting brush for applying olive oil to meats or fish on the grill. And yet another great rosemary tip: Choose a sturdy stem (not too short), clean off the most of the leaves up to one end and use it as a skewer for small cubes of meat or vegetables.


For instant lemon chicken, what better to use than lemongrass? The plant's scented leaves can be tucked under or wrapped around chicken as it roasts to yield a delightful lemony flavor.

Tip: Wish you could grow an assortment of flavorful herbs, but just can't find the space? Try this: a hanging herb ball. Buy a ready-made ball of sphagnum moss at your local garden center, then plant small portions of your favorite herbs in sections all over the surface. Hang in an area with sufficient light and mist frequently to keep the herbs hydrated. Then just harvest and enjoy.

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