A Bite Inspired by… Herb Gardens:
There’s nothing in the world quite like the smell of fresh herbs, particularly fresh basil. Basil has a gorgeous smell that reminds me of walking through a garden, early in the morning– fresh and crisp with a hint of sweetness! Inspired by my love of fresh herbs, I decided to try growing my own basil. I was a bit skeptical since I don’t really garden, but the results were astounding! My basil plant is the inspiration behind this beautifully simple recipe that highlights fresh herbs! This Olive Oil and Fresh Herb Sauce has clean, elegant flavors that go perfectly with anything from crusty bread to steamed veggies to grilled fish! The possibilities are endless!
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I love the smell of fresh herbs! They’re so fragrant; it just wakes you up. Especially, the smell of fresh basil. If they made basil candles, I would buy them ALL. Seriously, though. If anyone knows where to find a basil candle that smells like the real thing, can you send me one (or 10?) I would be forever grateful.
Basil has a beautiful smell that reminds me of walking through a garden, early in the morning. It’s a little sweet, but also savory with hints of mint and a dash of pepper. Since, I clearly have more than just a slight obsession with the smell of basil, I decided that it was time for me to grow my own basil, so I could have access to that gorgeous smell anytime.
I decided to start with one of those little windowsill herb planter kits. I put the basil seeds in the little pot. I kept the soil “moist”, but not “soggy”, just like the instructions said. (I wasn’t sure what the exact distinction between “moist” and “soggy” was, but I tried my best!) I kept it on my kitchen windowsill with plenty of sunlight. And waited…. and waited some more… and waited a bit longer. Okay, so patience isn’t exactly a virtue of mine. I wanted my amazing- smelling basil NOW!
But, a few weeks later, to my delight (and slight surprise), I had a fully grown basil plant on my hands. And, guys—it smelled insanely good. Like, indescribably good. I thought basil that I bought from the store that had probably been sitting there for days smelled good. But, basil fresh off the stem? Sigh. I was in basil-scented heaven.
And the best part? Growing basil is practically idiot proof. I have to admit I’m not much of a gardener and I’m not always great with DIY projects, but growing basil was a cinch for me. If I can do it, you can do it. In fact, you should do it! If you’re interested, my friend who’s really into growing herbs recommends the Natures’s Blossom Sow and Grow 5 Herbs kit . It has everything you need to grow 5 herbs, including basil! It’s slightly different from the kit I used—I got mine at my local plant nursery. But, it will yield similar results. Trust me– once you grow your own basil, you will never go back to store-bought. I was so inspired that I even bought a book called Indoor Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Beautiful Plants, Herbs and Vegetables in Your House . I’m going to try growing oregano next!
Inspired by the smell of fresh basil and my new hobby of growing my own herbs, I decided to create a recipe that really highlights fresh herbs (particularly basil) and puts them front and center in their purest, most aromatic form. For me, fresh herbs and olive oil just fit together. They are perfectly complementary. Olive oil is aromatic, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter—just like many fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, and rosemary are.
Once you have your olive oil and your herbs, the next natural pairing for me is fresh bread. So, I created, using fresh basil grown by my very own hands (yes—I’m proud of myself), a deliciously fragrant Olive Oil and Fresh Herb Sauce that tastes incredible with a thick slice of bread. This sauce embodies everything I love about herb gardens—it’s clean, natural, and simple, but the flavors are incredible!
The ingredients are really straightforward: high quality extra virgin olive oil (I recommend California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil ), fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, fresh basil, freshly ground black pepper, and optional crushed red pepper for a hint of spice. Oh, and my secret ingredient. Kalamata olives! A tablespoon of Kalamata olives in this recipe really highlights the flavor of the olive oil and brings it to the next level. The brininess of the olive perfectly complements the freshness of the herbs and garlic to create that perfect, magical bite. It’s out of this world.
The other great thing about this sauce is that you can use it for a lot more than just bread. It’s almost like an herby tapenade, except that it’s heavier on the olive oil than the olives. It tastes delicious mixed in with pasta, on top of chicken or fish, or tossed with steamed veggies. The possibilities are endless! It has very clean, elegant flavors that make anything taste fresh and flavorful! Plus, you’ll not only enjoy eating this dish—you’ll also love making it. Cutting into all those fresh, sweet smelling herbs will get your senses going before you’ve even tasted the sauce. Talk about a multi-sensory experience.
This is the perfect sauce to make for spring entertaining or just as a way of turning a simple weeknight dinner of pasta and chicken into a spectacular meal. It’s so easy; it’ll become your new go to for any occasion. The aromatic freshness will please all your senses and automatically make your meal more enjoyable. So, slow down. Take time to smell the fresh basil and you’ll have a more inspired day. (Apparently fresh herbs bring out the philosopher/poet in me 😉)
- ¼ cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Kalamata olives, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- Bread, for serving (optional)
- Pour olive oil into a bowl.
- Add all the other ingredients and stir well.
- Serve with bread alongside for dipping, if desired. You can also enjoy this sauce mixed in with pasta, on top of chicken or fish, or tossed with steamed veggies!