Sunday, June 1, 2014

Italian Herb Garden

Basil-lowers blood sugar levels, antispasmodic, reduces fever and irritation from insect stings.  It requires full sun and good airflow to avoid basil blight. Keep it watered well and pinched back hard, to produce bushy, delicious plants all summer long.  Cover if temperatures close to freezeing are expected, as basil will succumb to cold weather sooner than other herbs in the garden.
Oregano can be tasted prior to purchase, to be certain of the flavor of the variety being considered for purchase, as it can often be bitter tasting. Keep it watered. Neglect can make an herb have a more intense flavor, and in the case of oregano, this is not always a good thing.
Garic chives have the flavor of both a mild onion and garlic combined in one leaf.  They do grow a bit slower than chives, reducing the number of times you need to divide it.
Fennel-relieves flatulence, stimulates appetite, aids digestion, mild expectorant, increases breast-milk production, eye-wash for conjunctivitis.
Thyme will fill in every nook and cranny between the other herbs, yet it never seems to overtake the entire garden. Blend a bit of thyme into every Italian herb mix you create. You may not be able to distinguish the actual thyme in the mix, but you would miss it in the final blend if left out.
Marjoram is rich rich and flavorful, there is never a worry about bitterness. The flavor remains full bodied, even when dry. Sweet marjoram tolerates a bit of shade so it can be tucked intoto the back corner of the garden.
Lavender-scent, cures stress and stress related headaches, depression- carminative.
Calendula (Marigold) - skin problems such as rashes, antiseptic, eases swelling, detoxifier.
Juniper - strong antiseptic for urinary tract, cystitis, aids fluid retention, diuretic, anti-rheumatic.
Lemon - strong antiseptic, antirheumatic, antioxidant, reduces fever.
Garlic - strong antibiotic, expectorant, antispasmodic, expels worms from stomach.
Italian radicchio

Gremolata, an Italian herbal blend, is a combination of fresh flat-leaf parsley, garlic and lemon zest. It is most often used as a garnish, the finishing touch to a dish. Traditionally, it is served over osso buco. It enlivens pasta, potato, rice or grain salads, steamed or grilled vegetables, and is also good with fish and fowl. Generally, the amounts of the three ingredients are fairly equal, but you may want to use more parsley, and less garlic and lemon zest. As a peasant-style garnish and sort of rough-chop it; for a more refined garnish, you might finely mince the ingredients. Prepare this garnish just before serving. Rough-chop the garlic with a sharp knife. Add parsley and coarsely chop garlic and parsley together. Add lemon zest and chop just a bit to combine the ingredients. Serve Gremolata Recipe immediately, using it as a last-minute addition to your favorite vegetable dish, or as the tradition—a flavorful garnish for pasta or risotto.
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic
• 1/2 cup parsley leaves
• About 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Italian Herb Blend can be added fresh or dried to almost any Italian dish, from appetizers and vegetables to sauces and main courses, garlic bread, even salad dressing. This is the mix to use in tomato sauce and minestrone; it is perfecto for pasta, especially puttanesca; delicious in or on polenta and risotto; or used in a marinade or as a garnish for grilled vegetables, poultry or fish. If you don’t have sweet Italian oregano (Origanum ×majoricum), add a generous amount of sweet marjoram to balance out the pungency of a hotter oregano. Thyme adds a savory quality and sweetness, while rosemary adds a bit of piney resin to the blend. Some Italians might add a small amount of fennel seed.
• About 2 1/2 tablespoons oregano leaves
• About 2 1/2 tablespoons basil leaves
• About 1 generous tablespoon marjoram leaves

Bramasole's herb garden in Italy-author of "under the tuscan sun"

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