The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

December 6, 2012

Amanda Stone: Herb garden a flavor haven

JOPLIN, Mo. — Herb gardens deserve some recognition right now. Although it's chilly and pretty blustery outside, my herbs look fantastic.

A couple of years ago, I planted some herbs on a whim in an old metal trough. It had been painted haphazardly with spray paint to resemble camouflage. Terrible. I prettied it up with a fresh coat of paint and planted inside of it a few of my favorite herbs: Cilantro, rosemary, oregano and parsley.

Now my herbs are spilling over the sides of the trough Ñ they're more lush and green than they've been all year. Little did I know at that time that I had planted a culinary cool-weather herb garden. Thyme, sage, dill, fennel and chives all love cool weather as well. I need another trough.

Cool-weather herbs are a great way to continue getting fresh flavor from the garden throughout the winter. Roasted potatoes with rosemary, marinara made with oregano and tacos with sprigs of cilantro are all reminders for your palate that winter won't last forever.

Cilantro has always been a source of frustration for me. I love it so. Clearly, tomatoes and cilantro are meant to be together. What a cruel twist of fate that their paths barely cross. Tomatoes want heat, cilantro wants cold. It's an argument familiar in many relationships, but it doesn't have to be a deal-breaker for these salsa soul mates.

Freezing herbs is the best way to preserve their flavor. There are a few methods. You may chop them and push them into ice cube trays, then fill them with water and freeze. Store the cubes in bags and pop them into soups, or thaw them first. Or you can chop the herbs and freeze them on a baking sheet. Place the frozen herbs in containers and use as you would fresh herbs. I really like to make herb paste. Mix 2 cups of fresh herbs with 1/3 cup of olive oil in a blender until smooth. Freeze in ice cube trays.

The following recipes have a different twist on using fresh herbs:

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