Putting miles on the grill is all part of summer, as is the endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables as the heat index climbs. And if you’re into growing your own, chances are there are some herbs in your garden too. But are you growing herbs for grilling and BBQ? It’s not too late to plant what you’re missing from the complete outdoor chef’s array of fresh flavors.
After all, if you’re grilling it on the BBQ, the raw ingredients are probably fresh; meats, fish and seafood, vegetables, and even fruits. So, why would you want to spoil that with dried herbs? They’re fine rehydrated in a marinade but will burn fast over an open flame. So, while you will want to use about twice as much of a fresh herb for flavor, it will go through the cooking process in much better shape.
Sure, you can buy many fresh cut herbs at the store, but you’ll be missing a lot of flavor! The volatile oils and flavonoids that make the fragrance, flavor, and health benefits possible start evaporating and weakening at the time the cut is made. That’s not good! Definitely better to start growing herbs for summer grilling at home.
The most common fresh herbs used in outdoor cooking are rosemary and thyme. Not only do the leaves of these two plants have a more rugged constitution compared to something like basil, they pair well with just about anything. In fact, most people growing herbs at home will already have one or both of them planted. Additionally, because of their more fibrous nature, they can also be used in smoking meats, and long rosemary stems make excellent grilling skewers for many foods!
Are you also already growing herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro, and sage? They’ll come in handy. Add dill, tarragon, and parsley to that list, and you’ll have a well-rounded selection of flavors that will work great in a wide range of grill recipes. Even fennel, lovage, and sorrel can find a place in a BBQ herb garden. Don’t forget the chives… not so much for tossing on the grill as for zesty garnishes and flavored butter. And finally, you’ll probably want to plant mint for the salads and iced beverages that pair so well with grilled meats and warm evenings.
Speaking of thyme and basil, look into the variety of flavors you could be growing. The same goes for mint. Plant an adventure, an herb garden that can add the fresh taste of summer to everything from flavored waters infused in your fridge to fish fillets, fruit salads, and giving your favorite steak a new twist.
Once you start discovering ways to enjoy summer herbs in meals cooked outdoors – you’ll probably want to start growing a lot more herbs. Especially when you see the cost of buying the same fresh herbs from farmers markets and grocery stores. Grow your own and live well for less.
Some other yummy sounding grill recipes that include fresh herbs…
- Spicy BBQ Ribs
- Grilled Prawn & Corn Salad
- Grilled Fennel Salad
- Grilled Marinated Veggies
- Grilled Beef Tenderloin
- 10 from Weber Grills
- For more ideas… Google “fresh herb grilled (insert meat/veggie name)”
Images courtesy of Thomas Kriese and Cristina Sanvito (respectively).