Easy Recipes Using Herbs from Your Summer Garden

The spring growing season started out nice and slow, with a few sprigs of basil here and a couple of chives shoots there.

You produced just enough to garnish your meals with your homegrown herbs. But before you knew it, spring rains made way for the summer sun and your mint has grown as tall as a small child.

You’ve got to use your basil before it grows flowers and your cilantro before it wilts. It’s a lot of pressure! Sure, you can spend your summer sipping the usual minty mojitos and dousing everything with basil pesto—actually, that sounds pretty great—but we’ve got some more creative ideas below to help you gobble your herbs before the bunnies do.

Shrimp Herb Toss
Serves 4

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6-ounce feta or goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup julienned basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley


1. Lightly salt halved tomatoes and set aside (the salt will help remove some of the juice so that your tomatoes won’t bring too much liquid to your dish—a great tip for using tomatoes in salads, too).

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan. Saute shrimp 3 minutes; remove from pan. Add remaining oil and cook onion 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

3. Add reserved tomatoes, lemon juice, and zest and bring to a boil.

4. Add cooked shrimp, cheese, and herbs and heat through. Serve over rice or orzo for a full meal. 


Serves 4

Serve this no-cook accompaniment on grilled steak, chicken, or shrimp. Drizzle it over roasted potatoes or fresh tomatoes. This recipe can also be used as a marinade.

Photo by Pam Rothbard.

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


1. Combine vinegar, salt, garlic, and shallot in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, parsley and oregano. Using a fork, whisk in oil.

Tip: If you want a little kick, add half a jalapeño, seeded and minced.


Other ways to use fresh herbs:

  • Chop and add fresh herbs to lettuce for a delicious salad. Try adding combinations of: parsley, basil, mint, dill or tarragon.
  • Make basil or mint simple syrup by combining 1 cup superfine sugar, 1 cup water and 1 cup coarsely chopped herb leaves and microwave 3-4 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Strain out herbs. Drizzle over strawberries or melon or add to iced tea, lemonade and cocktails. Combine syrup with fresh whipping cream, whip to desired consistency, then serve with berries or ice cream.
  • Toss fresh asparagus with olive oil and sea salt, then sprinkle with chopped chives, basil, and tarragon. Roast in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Boil small new potatoes then drain and toss while hot with butter, parsley, and dill.
  • Add feta cheese and fresh dill to scrambled eggs.
  • Roll a log of goat cheese in chopped chives, cilantro and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with crackers.
  • Make herb butter by mixing 1/2 cup chopped herbs (try basil, thyme, sage, parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, oregano or rosemary) into one stick of softened unsalted butter. Add 1 teaspoon each sea salt and ground pepper then pack into ramekin and cover with saran wrap. Chill until firm. Serve on steak, chicken or fish; smear onto bread or corn on the cob; add to pasta.


Pamela Rothbard is a writer and photographer living in Glencoe with her husband and two children. For more recipes, check out her website, Flour on the Floor