Some of the easiest plants to grow in a Rise Garden have to be herbs. They grow like crazy, are so easy to harvest, are relatively problem-free, offer big flavor and nutrients in small quantities, add gorgeous color to dishes, make you feel like a professional cook with flavors and garnishes, and offer a lovely bounty very quickly. There is no wonder people love herbs!
Because herbs grow so plentifully, I’m always looking for new ways to use them. My favorite way has to be baking focaccia “art” bread. Focaccia, in my opinion, is one of the easiest homemade breads you can make—it offers huge flavor due to the quantity of olive oil and salt, and it needs no gentle handling (the finger dimpling is so enjoyable!). Focaccia “art” bread is also so easily customizable (all while letting you turn into a Monet or Van Gogh in your kitchen!). Focaccia can be made with various palates in mind—vegan, omnivore, vegetarian, picky eater—whatever it is, focaccia has you covered.
To make an herby focaccia, harvest your desired fresh herbs from your garden. Next, make sure you coat your herbs with olive oil—this keeps the herbs from completely drying up in the oven. Don’t skip this step!
You can also use veggies, meats, cheeses, and fruits on your focaccia. I like to incorporate sweet and savory flavors—blue cheese with grapes, a salty bacon with a sweet onion jam and a bite of apple. I also prefer to use flavored olive oils (another great way to use herbs—infuse your own olive oil! I like to buy mine at my local artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar store so I can support a small, local business, but there are many recipes online if you want to create your own).
Whatever fruits, veggies, meats, and herbs you have available will probably work (including leftovers!). Just make sure you have everything out and easily accessible before you begin. This means you will want your veggies sliced, meats chopped, cheeses ready, jams and spoons out, and fruits sliced or diced. This is definitely a time to clear your counter of excess clutter so you have a good work space! After that, start creating!
Another way to use herbs is to dry your own. I prefer to cook with my fresh herbs at every meal, but when it is time to clean my garden or I’m ready to make room for something new, I harvest the whole plant, tie it up with a piece of cooking twine, and hang upside down to air dry. It takes about 7-10 days to air dry like this, and then I can place my dry herbs in an old herb container (reduce, reuse, recycle!).
Happy gardening, baking, and eating!