Fresh herbs from the garden can add enhanced flavor and seasonal ambiance to your summertime cooking and baking. Whether you’re having a large get-together, celebrating the holidays, or just want to add some freshness to your weeknight dinners, these four recipes using ingredients from your very own outdoor or indoor herb garden will add a dash of nature to a perfect summer meal that’s a breeze to make.
Drink: Parsley Gin Julep
Be your own bartender extraordinaire with this refreshing herbal spirit with an unusual twist on the typical julep.
8 parsley leaves
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Ice cubes, plus crushed ice
1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce chilled club soda
1 lime wheel
1. Make the simple syrup by bringing 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the parsley with the lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice cubes and the gin and shake well. Strain into a crushed ice–filled collins glass. Stir in the club soda and garnish with the lime wheel.
Appetizer: Tomato and Mozzarella Bites
Treat guests to this grab-n-go version of the popular appetizer. Since this recipe is easy to assemble, invite the whole neighborhood over for a great party this summer!
20 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
20 fresh basil leaves
20 small balls fresh mozzarella cheese (often labeled bocconcini)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Using a toothpick, spear a half of a tomato, a leaf of basil, a mozzarella ball, and another half of a tomato. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
2. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the vinegar and oil together in a small bowl to serve as a dipping sauce.
Main Dish: Skillet Rosemary Chicken
This recipe is perfect for Wednesday’s dinner but is also sure to impress for your summer dinner party. Tasty rosemary from your herb garden and the fresh tart of lemon makes the dish explode with so much flavor that you’ll want to make this a weekly go-to meal for everyone to love.
3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.
2. Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.
3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon.
4. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.
Dessert: Apple Sage Cake
This delicious dessert is perfect on its own but if you’re open to trying something new, try it chopped up and sprinkled on top of a parfait. This treat is delightfully quick to make and is sure to wow your guests with notes of baked apple and fresh sage.
Unsalted butter, for cake pan
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups peeled and shredded Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup loosely packed sage, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt; mix until well combined. Stir in apples and sage; mix until well combined.
3. Pour batter into baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
What are some of your summertime recipes that you like to make with your herb garden? Let us know your favorites!