Herbes de Provence

by Samantha Johnson

It was famed chef Julia Child who introduced Americans to herbes de Provence, an iconic blend of dried spices from southern France. This blend features herbs that are easy to grow and adds abundant flavor and French flair to any manner of wintertime meals.

But what herbs make up the blend of herbes de Provence? Julia’s original recipe for chicken sautéed with herbs de Provence and garlic included just dried thyme, savory, basil and fennel. Most blends include savory, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil and tarragon. Some versions of herbes de Provence include bay leaves or, like Julia’s, dried fennel. Adjust the ratio of each ingredient depending on your preferences or to suit the dish you have in mind. Some cooks like to add a dash of mint to their herbes de Provence blend. Lavender is another optional ingredient that isn’t typical of traditional French herbes de Provence, but it is usually included in commercial blends crafted in the United States.

Growing and creating your own herbs de Provence recipe is easy, and it would be fun to grow a Provencal herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow and add immeasurable beauty, texture and fragrance to the garden. Most herbs thrive in full sun, appreciate regular watering, and love having ample space to grow and expand. Or, you can grow them in a container garden on your patio or deck. Use them fresh during the growing season, then dry them for your herb blend.

Herbs can be dried by tying them in bunches and hanging them in a cool, dry place until they are dry; using a dehydrator; or even using the microwave! To dry herbs in a microwave, pull the leaves from the plant, wash them and let them dry, place between paper towels, then microwave in 30-second bursts until they are dry.

 

COOKING LIKE JULIA
Once you’ve mixed together a beautiful blend of herbes de Provence, it’s off to the kitchen. This blend is especially delicious when used to prepare grilled or roasted meats, such as fish, lamb or poultry. It’s also popular for use in stews. But herbes de Provence isn’t just for entrees! Try it with vegetables, in side dishes, in sauces or add to salads or your favorite vinaigrette. You could even try adding a couple of teaspoons of herbes de Provence to your favorite shortbread cookie recipe or as a flavor-filled addition to cake batter.

 

Wisconsin-based Samantha Johnson is the author of several books, including Garden DIY, (CompanionHouse Books, 2020). Visit her online portfolio at http://samanthajohnson.contently.com.

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HERBES DE PROVENCE

Makes 3/4 cup

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried savory
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried tarragon

DIRECTIONS
Add all to a spice grinder and pulverize. Or, mince herbs by hand. Mix together and store in a tightly covered glass jar. Optional additions include bay leaves, dried parsley or dried fennel.

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