Ahh, summer and the distinct smell of outdoor grilling is once again in the air. The wafting aroma is sure to get your juices flowing. Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to prepare food. Adding herbs to the food or even to the hot coals is a great way to season your food without salt as well as a wonderful way to take advantage of the aromatic essential oils in the plants.
Before adding the food to the hot coals, toss a handful of Rosemary , Thyme , Lavender or any combination of fresh herbs that you will be using in the food. Then add the food quickly and close the lid. The smoke from the herbs will not only season your food but will release the essential oils into the air. For example, if you choose lavender, which is good on many types of fish and poultry, you will also receive the relaxing benefits of the essential oils contained in the leaves or flowers as the hot coals release them into the air.
When adding fresh herbs to food that is being grilled, I find that the proper time to add them is according to what food is being prepared. For corn and potatoes, I add them in the beginning. When it comes to fish or poultry, try adding the fresh herbs the last 15 to 20 minutes. Another trick that I have found useful is to make an herb butter or marinade. This is a great way to incorporate some extra flavor into your meal without having to pick the fresh herbs as you are grilling.
Vegetables are also an important part of our daily diet and delicious when cooked on the grill. Along with providing essential nutrients to our system, they are delicious and refreshing. The summer months give us the best opportunity to experience fresh produce in addition to the fresh herbs.
If you cannot grow your own, be sure to carefully wash the produce you buy with soapy water so that no unwanted residues remain. The exception to this rule is with herbs. They should not be washed, just quickly rinsed so that the essential oils don’t rinse away.
Companion planting has also become quite the rage in the past few years, instead of a basic herb garden, try an herb and vegetable garden. For example, try planting tomatoes, geraniums, and basil together. The geraniums will help the tomatoes to turn color faster and produce more, while basil has always been a good companion plant for tomatoes. It also makes it more convenient when picking. Just add a few leaves of basil to your tomatoes and prepare the recipe as you normally would. Combining them during preparation allows the basil oils to flavor the tomatoes without much additional work on your part and after all the summer months are meant for relaxation.
So, as you can see the possibilities for grilling and using herbs are endless. There is an abundance of recipes out there for cooking with herbs and fresh produce on the grill. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and let the smells of fresh herbs and produce on the grill take over your neighborhood and help you relax after a long day.
Making Herbal Butter
The easiest way I have found to do this is to pick fresh herbs in the morning and dry them. I usually put them in the oven at about 350 degrees until they are dry, however other methods such as hanging them or using a dehydrator or microwave will work.
Once they are dry, I add about two tablespoons of butter to a bowl and sprinkle approximately one teaspoon of dried herbs on top of that. I then use my electric mixer to whip the butter and herbs together. You can do this by hand if you prefer. Also, feel free to experiment with different amounts of herbs and butter.
You will need to refrigerate this for at least an hour so the flavors can mix. You can make this butter up to 24 hours ahead of when you need it.
If you are new to using herbs, or maybe just wondering what goes well together, take a look at this chart for some suggestions.
Favorite Herbal Combinations
Strawberries Chocolate Mint
Potatoes Basil, Oregano and Thyme
Fish Dill, Lemon Verbena
Bread, Rolls Lavender, Parsley
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 tablespoons each pineapple sage and parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons white wine
- Garlic salt
- Seasoning salt
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Place the charcoal in the grill and light. While the coals are heating up, marinade the chicken in the white wine.
Once the coals are hot, place a roasting pan on top of the coals and melt the butter. Add the olive oil and then the roast including the marinade, turn to coat it on all sides with the oil and butter mixture.
Cook this for a few minutes until the pan begins to dry up, and then fill the pan approximately ½ full of water . Add the herbs to the top of the chicken and the seasonings to taste then cover the pan.
Cook approximately an hour or until the chicken is tender. I like to baste my chicken approximately every twenty minutes during this time.
You can also add some potatoes and carrots to the chicken if you like. I usually do this at the beginning and sprinkle the herbs and seasonings over them as well.
Dilled Corn on the Grill
- Fresh corn on the cob
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon dill per ear
Combine the butter and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whip into a smooth mixture that is spreadable.
Then peel the corn husk back and remove the silks. Wash the corn and spread the above mixture on the corn before sprinkling the dill on each ear. Cover the corn back with the husks and wrap them in foil. Lay this directly on the coals and turn every 15 minutes for an hour.
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