A Study in Herbs

Published On: June 13, 2021Categories: Cooking, Farming
Thyme herb bundle

If you ever get my cookbook, you’ll quickly learn that herbs are my THANG. It’s sort of a wonder I never decided to become an herbalist. Herbs are my secret ingredient, my go to, the thing that takes a dish from good to stellar, and always when I ask myself, “what does this need?” the answer is 9 times out of 10, herbs.

I’ve been planting herb gardens since I was a kid, after finding a Herb Bible from the 70s(?) that was my mother’s. I carefully laid out a classic + shaped garden and planted an array of herbs…at about 12, maybe 13. I then began to experiment with every which way I could work herbs into my cooking (any skin care, and dessert, and in arrangements etc.). Herb gardens were the first thing I put in at both of our houses, and when we lived in apartments, I had a well manicured potted herb garden that took up an entire table. I simply cannot imagine a life without them. 

While I could wax poetic about herbs, how beautiful their flowers are and so beneficial to pollinators, or how herbs often grow like weeds, I’d like to focus on identifying herbs. While there are enough herbs out there to fill an entire bible (obviously), I’d like to focus on some basic culinary herbs that I often include in my CSA boxes. I plan to elaborate on each and it’s uses at a later date, but for now, let’s cover the basics.


Bundle of sage

Sage is most often linked to poultry, and while it does lend that classic “poultry seasoning” taste to roast chickens and stuffing, it has a wide array of uses. The flowers are also some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, looking almost like tiny irises, and it actually comes in several varieties, from silver leaf to pineapple!

Fried Sage Leaves by Eat Outside the Bag
Sage Bee’s Knees Cocktail by Salt & Wind
Lemon Sage Shortbread Cookies by Food52

Epicurious 51 Best Sage Recipes


Ahh thyme, my favorite herb. I am constantly finding ways to sneak thyme into just about everything. It’s bright and fragrant leaves (and flowers) are great in everything from drinks and dessert to the traditional savory uses.

Epicurious 35 Thyme Recipes
Honey Thyme Lemonade

Bundle of Thyme


Bundle of rosemary

One of the most instantly recognizable herbs, it’s piney scent makes it a perfect addition to all manner of savory and sweet dishes! My cookbook has a recipe for Rhubarb Rosemary Crumble Bars (not finished yet unfortunately, but I’ll share soon!), as well as more than one drink recipe. I often throw a sprig under steak I have pan seared with browned butter, or on a sheet pan of smashed potatoes.

Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Lemon and Rosemary Bourbon Sour


Fresh Oregano is so refreshing! It’s a a great addition to so many things, from Greek salad to tacos and ALL the chimichurris.

Food and Wine Oregano Recipes
Greek Island Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

Bundle of oregano


Bundle of chives

The culinary uses of chives are literally endless! Anywhere you need a hit of fresh flavor with a garlic undertone, there they are, ready to serve. The flowers on these are also edible and delicious on salads, but also atop sour cream or even on scrambled eggs.

Chive Flower Vinegar
Epicurious 43 Chive Packed Recipes


It’s name alone should give you a good indication of what it can be used for, but I find this herb to be highly underutilized. It can lend it’s gently herby flavor in just about anything, and dries very well.

Savory and Green Beans
Summer Savory Bruschetta

Bundle of chives

Now, there are 100’s more herbs I could tell you about, but I’d rather just share a recipe with you that, in my opinion, is the best possible use for all of them: Homemade Boursin Cheese!

Boursin cheese comes from the French custom of fromage frais “fresh cheese.” Guests would actually add their own herbs as they saw fit. This strikes me as very appropriate, as this cheese lends itself beautifully to customization. Whether you’re serving this on crackers, stuffing it in chicken, or using it to make my version of a French omelette it will make anyone happy.

This freezes perfectly, and is an excellent use for homegrown herbs. You can make some with fresh herbs, and some with dried, form it into logs, freeze and have it ready to go when needed.

This is highly customizable to whatever herb combination you like. You can also use whatever soft cheese you like; cream cheese, goat, or my personal favorite, fromage blanc from the Vermont Shepherding company.

Homemade Boursin Cheese
*All measurements are for fresh herbs, reduce by half if using dried.


  • 8oz. Soft cheese
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½-1tsp. Garlic powder
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp fine pink salt
  • 2 tsp. Chives, mined
  • 2 tsp. Parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp. Basil, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dill, minced
  • 1 tsp. Thyme leaves, minced


  • Add all ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute. You can also mix these by hand in a large bowl with a sturdy whisk.
  • Using a rubber spatula, put the mixture on a large piece of parchment paper. Form into a log and wrap. Place in the fridge and use within a week, or freeze for up to 6 months, cutting large chunks off as needed to thaw.

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