5 Fantastic Herbs for the BBQ
Image by iStock / funwithfood
Herbs are the perfect complement for all BBQ fare, including bacon-wrapped prawns
Make sure you've got a fresh supply of healthy and delicious herbs at your disposal when you fire up the barbecue
BC in the summertime is all about living the good life, especially when you're outside on the patio or in the garden savouring the edibles growing around you.
For maximum gustation, be sure to grow these five fabulous herbs for at-your-fingertips flavour come BBQ time.
Ah, rosemary. Ravishing in the garden, delicious on dinner! If faced with the choice of choosing only one herb – for barbecues or otherwise – for me, this is it.
Thinking about what to use it with on the barbecue, I’m faced with the question: what barbecued food doesn’t benefit from rosemary? The addition of the chopped leaves to all vegetables, yam or potato fries, tomatoes, fish, poultry, meat or in any type of burger makes for spectacular taste.
Simply run your thumb and forefinger up the stem to rub off the lovely rosemary leaves, then chop and sprinkle prior to cooking. If you picked too much, let it dry and then store the rosemary in a glass jar in a cool cupboard. If you’re barbecuing souvlaki, the straight branches of rosemary can be dried and soaked ahead of time for use as skewers.
However you relish rosemary, you and your dinner companions will benefit from its hugely antioxidant properties and multiple vitamins and minerals. Also anti-inflammatory, iron-rich and a remedy for colds, this herb deserves a place of honour in everyone’s garden and on their plate.
Time after time, I’ve waxed lyrical about thyme. But why not? It’s perennial, evergreen and a gorgeous “spiller” for containers, rock walls and hanging baskets. It’s bee-friendly, beautiful, and a boon in the kitchen. All winter, my family loads it onto roasted dinners and into soups.
Come summer, we toss clouds of tiny thyme leaves like confetti onto anything hitting the barbecue: tomatoes, peppers, onions, salmon, veggie burgers and more, meanwhile topping ourselves up with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins B6, C and A and disease-fighting thymol oils.
Biennial parsley feels like a perennial in my garden because just when it’s on the out, it plants itself again, self-seeding a fresh crop to last another two years.
Our parsley is always tree-like in size in the garden during summer grilling season, so I liberally chop and chuck it onto peppers, zucchini and any other food I toss onto the grill to add fresh flavour, vitamins (most particularly folic acid C) and antioxidants like beta-carotene.
By growing herbs in your garden, you'll always have instant flavour close at hand (Image: iStock / kzenon)
When I was a kid, we always had chives in our side garden and I took this reliable herb for granted. Now I realize how charmed it was. Rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, antioxidants, and anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal thio-sulfinites, chives are a natural to boost our health.
For easy gourmet dinners, barbecue potatoes or vegetables and then fling on masses of snipped chives with a speck of butter or olive oil and one turn of fresh-ground pepper to transform simple fare into something fabulous. And beautiful. That is, if you top it with some of the pretty pink and edible chive blossoms that pop up with a steady regularity.
A personal favourite trick with chives is to cut them down to the roots regularly (eating the snippings); they will grow back in just days and you will have an ongoing and succulently tender supply for all of spring, summer and into late fall, until these perennials die back for a winter’s rest.
Come thaw, their green shoots are a celebratory sign of spring. When I was a kid, we had one chive plant; now I grow 20 in my own garden and that’s still not enough.
Oregano, too, in my garden dies back over winter. But come spring, the flavour-packed leaves of this perennial are warmly welcomed at my house.
The ultimate addition to a Greek-food barbecue of skewered vegetables and chicken – or just about any other barbecued fare – this herb is fabulous served fresh from the garden, and it’s also 40 times more potent an antioxidant source than a fresh apple.
Vitamin K abounds too, along with minerals, omega 3s and an antibacterial punch. It’s also gorgeous in the garden, particularly in a terra-cotta pot or hanging planter.