You don’t need to be a master chef to love cooking up good homemade dishes. More and more men and women are passionate about cooking and are making it a point of honor to use aromatic plants from the garden as much as possible. How can we do without them, which are capable of satisfying the palate of the most demanding? Absolutely essential, they transform the simplest dishes into gourmet dishes. When mealtime approaches, it’s always a pleasure to pick your pick from the garden to amaze the taste buds of young and old alike… Here is a selection of aromatic plants that you absolutely must have in the vegetable garden, especially since they are easy to cultivate.
1 – Thyme (Thymus)
Depending on the species (there are nearly three hundred), it is sometimes called farigoule or wild thyme. Thyme, a sub-shrub of the family Lamiaceae, is not very greedy in water and moreover very sensitive to excess humidity. On the other hand, it needs a lot of sun. Under these conditions, no particular care is required. It is covered with small pink or white flowers from June until the end of September. It’s a aromatic rock plant very common in our southern regions, to be protected everywhere else against frequent rains by planting it in a pot to shelter it.
Note that it is rare to keep your thyme plant from one year to the next. Never mind, we replace it without hesitation because it keeps its promises in the kitchen, bringing a very distinctive taste with grilled meats, lamb, roasted vegetables and masterfully flavors sauces and infusions.
2 – Chives (Allium shoenoprasum)
This plant of the family of Liliaceae likes to be installed in a shady corner of the vegetable garden. Make sure to water it regularly, even frequently when it is hot, because this aromatic needs a cool ground. In other words, as soon as the soil is dry, we take out the watering can.
The chives provide a subtly spicy and fresh taste to food. Its flavor is reminiscent of onion or leek, but less pronounced. Moreover, all these plants belong to the botanical genus Garlic. It is added at the last moment, just before serving, after having simply chiselled. It is the perfect aromatic herb to flavor eggs, cream sauce, raw vegetables and salads as well as fresh cow or goat cheeses.
3 – Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
It is a herbaceous plant of the family of Asteraceae with much branched stems and deciduous foliage. It is planted in a soil rich in humus, light, well drained but which remains cool because it likes humidity. He must have a sufficient sunlight while being protected from the scorching sun.
Tarragon leaves are very fragrant due to the estragole they contain. It is this compound that gives them this anise flavor so special. It is used as a condiment plant but also as an aromatic to flavor meats, stuffings, pâtés, sauces, eggs, potatoes and even salads.
4 – Savory (Fairy tales)
Very fragrant, this plant of the family of Lamiaceae originates from the Mediterranean basin, but its hardiness makes it possible to cultivate it in all our regions except in the mountains. It likes light, rich, well-drained, cool soils and even tolerates moderately calcareous soil. We reserve a corner of the vegetable garden for it sunny and warm.
Its aphrodisiac power is not proven, but what is certain is that savory deliciously enhances a stuffing, a sauce, supples, salads and raw vegetables, pork, rabbit, chicken, so many dishes to which she brings a peppery note. Its leaves are used whole or chopped, freshly picked or dried. Savory is one of the famous Provence herbs that make the grills sing. As for its flowers, they can be tasted as an infusion.
5 – Cultivated coriander (Coriander)
This aromatic plant of the family of Apiaceae very famous throughout the world is sometimes called chinese parsley. She likes to be planted under the sun provided that it is filtered during the hottest hours, in a terre fertile, loose, light, sandy and well drained. Cilantro needsregular watering. So that its leaves remain tender, it is recommended to remove the flower buds as soon as they appear, except for a few if you wish to collect seeds in order to sow them because coriander is a annual plant.
We appreciate its lemon flavor who brings a note of freshness to many culinary preparations. Its leaves flavor tajines, sauces, keftas, poultry, fish, sauces, salads… As for its seeds, they are used as a condiment and give flavor to a marinade. Finally, it is with coriander roots that we raise certain spicy preparations such as curry.
6 – L’aneth (Anethum graveolens)
It is a plant of the family of Apiaceae (formerly Umbelliferaea) that we call bastard fennel or false anise. This herbaceous plant is placed in the sun, sheltered from the prevailing winds, and sufficient space is reserved for it. She is content with a ordinary earth provided it is sufficiently light and loose, enriched with compost. If the soil is too compact, do not hesitate to mix it with potting soil and sand to lighten it. It must be watered enough to keep the soil cool and avoid a rapid bolting.
Dill brings a very special flavor to the kitchen, absolutely unique, all in subtlety, at the same time spicy, aniseed and lemony. It is therefore a real bouquet of aromas that it brings to multiple culinary preparations. Dill flavors sauces, marinades, fish, shellfish, pork, eggs, meatballs, potatoes, bisque… Its yellow flowers are incorporated into condiments and its seeds can be added to the bread dough. Extremely subtle, the taste of dill satisfies the most picky palates.
7 – Sage officinalis (Sage officinalis)
It is an aromatic sub-shrub with semi-evergreen foliage which belongs to the family of Lamiaceae. Sage officinalis is sometimes nicknamed thé d’Europe or holy grass. Very resistant, this plant of the maquis is satisfied with a poor and dry ground. It has a slight preference for light soil, but tolerates heavy, compact soil, and even calcareous soil, provided that its growing medium is well drained. She likes to be planted in full sun, but in regions of the Mediterranean basin where it is particularly hot, sage officinalis appreciates a semi-shaded exposure. In a cold climate, it is recommended to protect its foot with a mulch.
Used fresh, sage leaves flavor hot sauces, vinaigrettes, and can also be prepared as an infusion. To enjoy their flavor in winter, just dry them. They will then keep for several months. Be careful, however, of do not abuse it because an excess can cause dizziness, hot flashes and in the most serious cases, hallucinations and convulsions. The toxicity of sage is due to the thujone contained in its essential oil. This molecule, which is also found in absinthe, is a neurotoxin, ie it acts on the nervous system.
8 – Common oregano (Oregano vulgaris)
It is a perennial plant of the family of Liliaceae to grow in a sol sec. Oregano forms a clump, which in summer blooms profusely. Its flowers in umbels are prettily colored in pink and purple. As for its leaves, they exhale spicy notes as soon as they are crumpled. Easy to grow, common oregano likes soleil. It is perfect in rock gardens and in pots, and its great hardiness allows it to withstand extreme cold down to -25°C.
Oregano gives a divine flavor to pasta, pesto, pizzas, tomato sauce and soups. It is very present in Italian cuisine where it is used fresh or dried, and forms a happy marriage with basil. In Greece and Portugal, it is also used in various culinary preparations. In France, the aromatic plant commonly called garden oregano is more readily used, which is none other than marjoram (Oregano marjoram). These two species are very close to each other, but the flavor of marjoram, which is reminiscent of thyme, is more delicate than that of common oregano.
9 – Le persil (Crispy parsley)
Biennial herbaceous plant of the family Apiaceaeparsley comes in various varieties, flat, curly, tuberous. It is grown in a sunny or slightly shaded area of the vegetable garden, in very fertile land, light, loose and cool. It supports pot culture. Make sure that your growing medium is always moist.
Parsley is a great ally in the kitchen. It flavors meats, fish, vegetables, potatoes, pasta, rice… It is essential in different sauces, goes divinely with garlic. At a time seasoning and garnish, it is eaten raw, cooked, fried, in jelly. We can hardly do without it.
10 – Basil (The basilisk)
This herb of the family Lamiaceae love them rich, moist, well-drained soils, sunny and warm exposures, well sheltered from the prevailing winds. It does not tolerate temperatures below 9°C. Outside the Mediterranean rim, it is better to grow it in pots to be able to shelter it as soon as necessary.
Basil is essential in pasta and gives a divine flavor to eggplant, zucchini, pesto, pizzas, eggs. It works wonders on tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and buffalo mozzarella. Basil is also an aromatic plant of choice to sublimate a sauce.
The rosemary (sage rosmarinus) is also a must in the kitchen. Its evergreen leaves are very aromatic. We therefore reserve a place in the sun for this shrub which flowers generously in winter or spring depending on the region. We love its tortuous shape which gives the garden an accent of scrubland, as well as its great ability to withstand drought as well as wind, spray, freezing cold and very poor soils. As to Laurier-sauce or True Laurel (A noble laurel)it completes the collection of aromatics that any gardener with a passion for cooking wishes to cultivate.