Photo courtesy www.suzette.nu

Indoor herb gardening 101

There’s something enticing about using a sprig of fresh herbs in cooking, that brings life and brightness to any dish it’s added.

It could be the tanginess of lemongrass in a Tom Yum soup, the fragrance of finely chopped cilantro as a garnish in an Indian curry, or the added flavors of fresh dill and parsley in a Greek salad. Imagine making pesto with basil leaves that are plucked from the pot on your kitchen windowsill, or brewing a pot of tea with fresh bright green mint leaves.

Growing an indoor culinary herb garden is not as time-consuming as it may seem. With these simple tips, you will soon (in a matter of weeks) be enjoying a little green space in your home.

Choose the right vessel – Simple clay or plastic pots will suffice, as long as you ensure they have drainage holes. You don’t want water to stagnate in the pot! Saucers will work well to hold any excess water, eliminating (or hopefully at least minimizing) damage to windowsills or furniture. Also, be sure to use a good potting mix from a gardening store. Herb seeds or seedlings can be bought at your local farmer’s market or online.

(If you don’t feel like investing the time, an easier option would be to purchase an indoor garden kit, which usually includes the seeds, pots, and soil with easy-to-follow instructions.)

Start with simple herbs – Parsley, mint, chives, oregano, and dill are relatively easy to grow and perfect for first-time gardeners.

Light is key – To grow well, herbs need as much natural light as possible (preferably 4 hours of sunlight everyday). Make sure to rotate the herb container on a regular basis so that it doesn’t grow crooked. You could also use a florescent bulb to supplement inadequate light.

Optimum indoor temperature is between 65 F and 75 F. Most herbs cannot survive very cold temperatures.

Water at regular intervals – and don’t overdo it! The topsoil should be moist to your touch. Mist them regularly to maintain humidity. Fertilize sporadically as herbs don’t need much to thrive.

To make the most out of your well-tended and fruitful garden, we’ve put together a roundup of recipes that feature our favorite fresh herbs. We hope the flavors will inspire you to finally take the plunge into indoor gardening!

roasted shrimp with minty tabbouleh
We love millet for its health benefits and light texture. The gluten-free ancient seed is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B. We channeled the herby flavors of tabbouleh by tossing fluffy millet with mint, parsley, and a lemony dressing.
roasted shrimp

spring minestrone soup
The soup has it all— vibrant spring vegetables, satisfying pasta curls, and plenty of nutty parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the top.spring minestrone soup

stuffed peppers with israeli couscous and herb oil
First we roasted colorful peppers, then we filled them with Israeli couscous laced with veggies and raisins and grated Parmesan for a salty kick.We threw them back in the oven for a caramelized top and whipped up a green dressing to be drizzled on top.
stuffed peppers with israeli couscous and herb oil

spring herb chicken pot pie with asparagus
This is not your typical pot pie, and yet it has all the comforting qualities of a traditional pot pie. First, we used puff pastry for a delicate, flaky crust. The filling—made with chicken, scallions, and asparagus—cooks separately and gets spooned on at the very last minute to ensure a crisp crust. We placed a few parsley leaves on the pastry before baking; it’s a simple technique that lends beautiful results.

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seared pork chops with strawberry chimichurri and herbed quinoa
The strawberry chimichurri spooned over these simply seared pork chops is as delicious as it is beautiful. The flavors are both sweet and savory at once and are a perfect complement to the pork. Alongside, herbed quinoa is topped with spinach, which once wilted, gets stirred in for a healthy, delectable side dish.

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pappardelle with wild mushrooms and herbs, lemon zest and parmesan
When mushrooms start appearing at the farmers markets, it’s time to start using them with abandon. This vegetarian pasta dish relies on their earthy notes to bring some simple egg noodles to life. Toss in some butter and a large handful of herbs and it’s hard to beat this quick weeknight meal. Use a vegetable peeler to grate large shavings of parmesan over the final dish – you’ll get a bigger hit of cheese that way (and who doesn’t want that?).

pappardelle

(featured image: www.suzette.nu)