Cultivating a herb habit

I have a horrible admission to make.

Every single year for the last, oh, 15 or so years, I have grown a nice little collection of culinary herbs. Yet unless I’m making a recipe that specifically calls for herbs, they rarely make the leap from my garden to my kitchen. (The photo above is a newly planted herb patch, since some of my former herb area are now too shady thanks to trees that insist on growing and growing.)
I do enjoy not needing to drop a small fortune on a bundle of herbs at the grocery store every time I need two sprigs. Still, the herbs in my garden deserve more love. So I’ve declared 2014 as the year of No Herb Left Behind.
Herbs, especially fresh herbs, can elevate flavor and satisfaction in almost any dish, but they also are nutritional powerhouses, packed with nutrients and phytochemicals. Not surprising, when you consider that they are plants, after all, and thus not far removed from veggies, but they still tend to be overlooked when we think about eating for optimal health.

When I saw this recipe for Basil-Oregano White and Black Bean Salad, I thought, “Awesome, I have a mammoth oregano plant threatening to take over one of my garden beds.” Exhibit A:

Of course, the recipe doesn’t call for that much oregano, and my lone basil plant didn’t have enough leaves to spare, so I bumped up the oregano and stirred in some fresh pesto that I had on hand (since the pesto has olive oil in it, I reduced the oil in the recipe to 2 tablespoons).

Easy and tasty, and adaptable, since beans in vinaigrette would work with any number of herbs. Now I need to come up with some ideas that involve sage: