Cooking with Culinary Herbs

Cooking with Culinary Herbs

We know herbs are a big category so we’re not going to try to list them all here (or even go into excruciating detail about the ones we do grow). Instead, we will explore common herbs we grow that you will get in your CSA regularly. These herbs will introduce you to deepening flavors and adding freshness to dishes in seasons (like late fall) when root vegetables step in. 

We include herbs in many of our CSA boxes, probably about 25-30% of them. You can expect to receive them from early spring until fall but the season for different herbs changes. 

Dill, cilantro and chives are always the very first herbs we will put into CSA boxes and bring to market. Mint comes next. And we know folks LOVE basil so we plant it in our tunnels early so you can get it in late June (yum). We try to have cilantro and basil at market all summer long, and especially in the CSA during peak tomato season since these herbs pair so well with peak summer produce (and we know you want cilantro for your salsas too)! Cool season herbs like thyme and sage are saved until fall so they can be paired with squash, root vegetables, and other fall dishes. We also grow parsley all season long and include it in CSA boxes on occasion (but not too much). 

Herbs we grow

Basil is on the left and dill is on the right.


In the Midwest, we tend to think dill is just for potato salad and pickles, but it is an incredibly aromatic herb that can add delicious flavor to so many dishes. It can be used in small or large amounts and we encourage you to experiment to see what works well for you. You may enjoy using more than you think! Dill is great with lettuce salads, cucumber salads, tomato salads (okay, pretty much any salad!), coleslaws, sauteed zucchini, roasted veggies, and in creamy or vinegar based sauces, dips, and dressings among many, many other preparations. Need more ideas? The Kitchn has you covered with a blog about 25 ways to use dill!


We know this is a love or hate herb, but we’ve learned from our customers that the people who think they hate cilantro tend to have had bad experiences with cilantro overload. Which honestly, can turn anyone into a cilantro hater. We recommend you use cilantro in small quantities to start if you’re cilantro averse and see how your palate adjusts. And cilantro is worth learning to love, we promise! 

Obviously delicious in Mexican dishes, salsa, and guacamole, cilantro can also add a fresh pop of flavor to so many meals. We love it in slaws, grain bowls, noodle bowls, and fall dishes (like potatoes) to make them taste like summer. Cilantro also makes an excellent pesto (which will become your new favorite pizza sauce), chutney for Indian dishes, and a myriad of other dynamic sauces. The most well-known cilantro sauce is chimichurri, which honestly, is a great way to experience cilantro if you’re afraid you won’t like it. It’s bright and zesty, a great addition to grilled meats and/or roasted vegetables. We’ve got a recipe at the bottom for you.


A perennial crop that’s often the first to arrive in spring, chives are simple to love and even simpler to use. They are actually a member of the allium family (which we have many ideas and resources for here!) and have a lovely, mild, oniony flavor. We love them as a garnish in the spring for everything from scrambled eggs to salads, soups, and toast (no really, it will take your garlic bread to the next level) and we agree with Bon Appetit that everyone should really be sprinkling more of them on everything. They can become much more than a garnish in things like quiche, potato dishes, and anything with a sour cream and onion tone (dips, dinner rolls, etc). 


Mint is a sweet, aromatic herb with a strong aroma that originated in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s strong flavor means that you can use very little to get the amazing freshness and flavor added into any dish. Because it’s native to the Mediterranean, it pairs well with other flavors from this region- things like cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and olives. A salad with all these ingredients (and maybe some crumbled feta) is suburb. Fattoush (which includes dried pita in addition to many of these same ingredients) is another fun direction to go with your mint. Mint also pairs well with other springy veggies like snap peas, cucumbers, and zucchini, is common in Thai and Laotian dishes, and is well-known for its use in beverages- mojitos, mint juleps, mint lemonade, and agua fresca are all absolutely delicious and a great way to utilize extra mint you have on hand.


Basil is a delicious, aromatic, and delicately flavored annual herb that is outstandingly popular among our CSA members and farmers market customers. It tastes amazing raw and is well known for being used that way in tomato salads (like the famous caprese). It also pairs well with pretty much any green vegetable (lettuce, broccoli, snap peas, green beans, zucchini all work well alongside basil) and works beautifully with bright, summer fruits like strawberries, peaches, and melons. But basil need not only be eaten raw. It is also great added to cooked dishes (most especially tomato sauce) right at the end (which preserves the oils…) and of course used in pesto. It makes amazing syrups for cocktails and mocktails, and can even play a starring role in things like stir fries, fried rice, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese dishes, and topping platters of roasted or grilled vegetables.


Thyme is a deeply fragrant, perennial herb that we frequently give in the fall months to enhance fall vegetables like squash, potatoes, and other root storage crops (like carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, and more). The stems are woody so you will want to remove the leaves from the stems before use (unless adding thyme to soups as a bundle that will be removed). Use it with roasted vegetables or roasted meats (think whole chickens or large roasts), add it to soups, biscuits, and dinner rolls, or even stir it into cocktails (no, really!). It’s also great with pasta (especially tomatoey or mushroom-based dishes) and makes a really tasty vinaigrette. Thyme is a subtle flavor that adds a nice bright, freshness to a recipe.


Sage is another herb we frequently give in the fall to complement fall vegetables. It can be used in all the same preparations as thyme (with roasted vegetables and meats, in soups, rolls, breads and cocktails) as well as some obvious Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing. We also love it in pastas, but tend towards squash-based pasta dishes instead of tomato ones (like this Pasta with Butternut Squash and Brown Butter Sage). Another classic preparation is to fry whole leaves and add them to fall dishes (like this Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Fried Sage).


Often used as garnish, we love parsley for its mild flavor in place of celery in many dishes like tuna salads, smashed chickpea salads, and . You can also use it as a green and toss it into a salad with other greens or make it the base of your salad (like this one or the classic Mediterranean Tabbouleh salad). Paired with lemon and/or butter, it makes an absolutely delicious dressing or sauce for meats, seafood, pasta, or even roasted vegetables. It also makes a very nutritious addition to juices and smoothies. And is commonly added to chimichurris and pestos to maintain their vibrant green color (and add some complexity of flavor) without taking away from the key flavor profile.

Short-term storage

Many herbs prefer to be stored unbanded in a small glass or mason jar of water in the fridge (much like flowers). If you don’t have room for that, just store them in a loose plastic bag with a damp paper towel for a week or so. This method works well for dill, cilantro, chives, parsley, and mint.

Things like thyme and sage will store best in the fridge in a plastic bag. Because they are drier than other herbs coming out of the field, they don’t need a whole glass of water to keep them in tip top shape. They also will likely dry out over time rather than turning bad like some of the other herbs. 

Of all the herbs we grow, basil is the trickiest to store. Generally, it needs to be dry and warm. We suggest storing it as a bouquet in a jar of water (outside of the fridge), changing the water daily, and trimming as needed. It can also go in the fridge in a very loose bag with a little paper towel added, but it can turn black in high humidity or a cold fridge. Any blackening or spots you see is cold damage.

Long-term storage 

Though herbs fall into the category of semi-perishable and are something you will want to use relatively quickly, there are luckily a lot of strategies for long-term preservation should you receive too many (or happen to grow too many in your gardens). Here’s our favorite long-term storage strategies.

Drying herbs

The easiest way to store herbs is to dry them. You can do this in a variety of ways, but the easiest is to hang bundles upside down in a well-ventilated area out of the sun until the moisture evaporates. From there you can remove them from the stems, roughly chop and store in a spice container just as you would with store-bought herbs. You can also dry in a dehydrator for faster results but this will remove a bit of the flavor. 

Herb butters

Herb butters, also known as compound butters, are a delicious treat and great way to use and even preserve your herbs. Incredibly easy to make, all you need is a softened stick of butter and 3-4 tablespoons of minced herbs (plus a little salt). You can add in other flavor agents if you like (lemon or orange zest and minced garlic are popular options). Mix the ingredients together until smooth (or use a food processor if making an extra large batch). From there, place the softened butter in a small container or gently roll into a piece of parchment or wax paper. The butter can be stored in your fridge and used over the next several months or even frozen for use in colder months. If freezing, place the parchment-wrapped pieces into a freezer ziploc bag.

Wondering what to do with herb butters? Here’s just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Keep it simple, dress up your morning toast or the rolls you enjoy at dinner
  • Serve a slab atop a steak, pork chop, or other grilled piece of meat.
  • Use it in place of regular butter in pasta, grits, or risotto for an added touch of brightness.
  • Stir it into mashed potatoes.
  • Use it to make an extra flavorful garlic bread.
  • Melt it over roasted veggies. 
  • Fresh corn on the cob, need we say more?


Though pesto is most commonly made with fresh basil, it can actually be made with almost any leafy herb (cilantro, parsley, mint and dill all make a tasty pesto) and the extra great thing about this is that prepared pesto stores (and freezes!) exceptionally well. Pesto is incredibly easy to make. Typically it’s basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, salt, pepper, and olive oil, but you can swap in any herb, any toasted nut, and even a different hard cheese if you’re feeling creative. Process until smooth and voila! Pesto!

There are tons of pesto recipes online and you can essentially just search for one with whatever ingredients you’re looking to use up until you get comfortable enough to experiment on your own. From there, you can store the pesto in the fridge for up to a week, but if you don’t think you’ll use it right away, you might as well freeze right away in mason jars or, if you plan to use just a little at a time, ice cube trays.

Prepared pesto can be used in pasta of course, but also as a pizza sauce, sandwich spread, base for dressings and sauces, stirred into soups, slathered onto toast, or served alongside roasted vegetables.

Freezing herbs

In addition to freezing herbs in the form of butter or pesto, you can also just freeze herbs whole for later use. This is a great option if trying to preserve a lot quickly and knowing you will utilize them in soups, stews, noodle dishes, and casseroles regularly. Heartier herbs with woody stems like thyme and rosemary, can be frozen whole in a bag or other container. Tender herbs like mint, dill, parsley, and cilantro should be removed from their stems and frozen chopped or whole in ice cube trays, covered with water. 

Creative ways to use herbs

I know we have thrown a lot of ideas at you throughout this post. We hope you feel inspired and that you’re starting to understand herbs are a simple item that can add so much to so many dishes when you start to showcase them as you would any other item of produce. 

To help you get started, here’s a list of creative ways to use herbs that you can easily reference throughout the year (and season!). You can find even more ideas from our friend Lovefood Farm who specializes in herbs. We’ve also got a few recipes for classic sauces and herb dishes below.


Again, we grow a lot of herbs and you can use them a lot of ways so for brevity, we’re going to share a few great sauces we recommend with the herbs we grow and then focus on a handful of classic, herb-based recipes.

A few great sauces 

Photo by: Bon Appetit

Basil Pesto

Recipe by Bon Appetit

Yield: 1-1/2 cups
Time: 10 minutes


½ cup pine nuts

3 ounces Parmesan, grated (about ¾ cup)

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

6 cups basil leaves (about 3 bunches)

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
  2. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet (or quarter-sheet pan), tossing once halfway through, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool. 
  3. Add Parmesan and garlic cloves, and pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add basil leaves and place the top back on. With the motor running, add extra-virgin olive oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute. 
  5. Season with salt.
Photo by: Feasting at Home


Recipe by: Feasting at Home

This recipe for chimichurri uses both cilantro and parsley (and it is very delicious that way!), but if you only have one of these herbs on hand you can use 1-1/2 cups of either cilantro or parsley instead.

Yield: 3 cups
Time: 15 minutes


1/4 cup red onion (or sub a small shallot)

2 large garlic cloves

1 jalapeno, seeded

1 cup cilantro, packed (about 1 bunch) 

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, packed

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil, add more to the desired consistency

1 tsp kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

  1. Rough chop the red onion, garlic, and jalapeno, and place in a food processor. Pulse several times until finely and uniformly chopped.
  2. Add cilantro and parsley, pulse again until uniformly chopped, not too fine. 
  3. Place this in a medium bowl, stir in lime juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, then pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil, stirring, adding the remaining 1/4 cup a little at a time, creating your desired consistency. 
Photo by: Love & Lemons


Recipe by Love & Lemons

Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 5 minutes


½ cup finely grated cucumber

1 cup thick whole milk Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, grated

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 tablespoon chopped mint, optional

  1. Place the cucumber on a towel and gently squeeze out a bit of the excess water.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, dill, and mint, if using. Chill until ready to use.

Some classic herb recipes

Photo by: Bon Appetit

Mashed Baked Potatoes with Chives

Recipe by Bon Appetit

Yield: 8 servings
Time: 45 minutes


2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed

1 head of garlic

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups half-and-half, warmed

1 bunch chives, thinly sliced

  1. Arrange a rack in lower third of oven; preheat oven to 425°. Scrub potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Halve garlic crosswise (as if you’re cutting through the equator) and place on a piece of foil. Drizzle with oil; season with salt and pepper. Fold edges of foil up and over garlic and crimp to close, creating a tight packet. Place on baking sheet with potatoes and roast until a knife slides easily through flesh of potatoes, 65–75 minutes. Let potatoes and garlic cool slightly.
  3. Halve potatoes lengthwise. Using fork, scrape flesh into a large saucepan (include skins if you want to add a little texture). Squeeze garlic cloves from skins into pan. Smash mixture with a potato masher until mostly smooth with only a few lumps.
  4. Cut butter into ½” pieces and combine in a small saucepan with half-and-half. Heat over medium-low, swirling, until butter melts and cream is warm but not boiling (it can be simmering gently around the edges).
  5. Pour about half of half-and-half mixture into potato mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth. Finish with remaining half-and-half mixture and season generously with salt and pepper. Top with chives.
Photo by: NYTimes Cooking

Lebanese Tabbouleh (parsley & mint)

Recipe by: NYTimes Cooking

Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 30 minutes


¼ cup fine bulgur wheat

1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)

Juice of 2 large lemons, to taste

3 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 large bunches)

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

½ pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped

1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 romaine lettuce heart, leaves separated, washed and dried

  1. Place the bulgur in a bowl, and cover with water by ½ inch. Soak for 20 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, and press the bulgur against the strainer to squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, scallions and salt. Leave at room temperature or in the refrigerator for two to three hours, so that the bulgur can continue to absorb liquid and swell.
  2. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lettuce leaves.
Photo by: NYTimes Cooking

Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs (basil)

Recipe by: NYTimes Cooking

This dish is fairly similar to caprese (which is a traditional Italian dish of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil), but includes a few more ingredients to make it a bit heartier and turn that dish into a full meal. 

Yield: 6 servings
Time: 45 minutes


4 ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion

2 garlic cloves, grated to a paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)

Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Black pepper, to taste

½ cup thinly sliced Persian or Kirby cucumber, about 1 small cucumber

½ cup torn basil leaves

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  2. Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, garlic paste, 1 tablespoon vinegar, oregano or thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes if using. Toss to coat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Stir in cucumbers, basil and parsley.
  4. Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed just before serving.
Photo by: Spend with Pennies

Brown Butter Sage Gnocchi

Recipe by Spend with Pennies

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes


16 ounces gnocchi, homemade or store bought

4 tablespoons butter

5-6 sprigs fresh sage

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil the gnocchi according to recipe or package directions. Drain well.
  2. While the gnocchi is cooking, add the butter and sage leaves to a large pan over medium high heat. Stir the butter occasionally until it begins to lightly brown and have a slightly nutty smell, about 2 minutes (the time can vary based on the type of pan).
  3. Remove the butter from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan (add a few extra sage leaves if you have them to flavor the oil) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the drained gnocchi to the pan and cook until golden on one side without stirring, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Add the browned butter back to the pan and mix with the gnocchi. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Season generously with salt and fresh black pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

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