Herban Cookin’…and Grillin

by James Farmer III
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lemonchickenOne of this Farmer’s favorite meals is a basic meat, veggie, and salad trio dolled up and flavored for the season. With summer in full swing, fresh herbs are abounding in the garden and flavoring my favorite basic meal with seasonal flair.

Basil...what a delicious flavor, smell, and plant in general. There are as many types of basil as you could ever imagine. ‘African Blue’ is one of my favorites for its small leaves, intense flavor, beautiful flower, and fabulous fragrance. With basil bolting, blooming, and bursting in the garden now, I’m using it now as my herb de jour.

Pairing well with lemon, garlic, and chives, I concocted a vinaigrette of the aforementioned herbs and fruit for a salad. This dressing fares well as a fresh condiment for the grilled chicken. I like to weave my flavors throughout my meal thus carrying a theme from course to course. With herbed vinaigrette on tap, an herb infused marinade for the chicken was in store.

With a family split down the middle of white and dark meat eaters, I just make it easy with the boneless thighs and breast tenderloins. I marinate them in my herb concoction that is very much akin to the vinaigrette. Basically taking the vinaigrette and adding soy, sesame oil, more basil, thyme, and chives, I soak the chicken as long as I can and grill it for that perfect complement of fresh tastes and char grilled flavor. What is it about a man and his grill? The food just tastes better and it gives us boys a chance to play with fire – ha!

roastedpotatoesOn to the potatoes! The baby Yukon Gold potatoes are so tender and delicious. Quartering them and tossing them with red onion and Vidalias makes for the perfect side. Garlic, olive oil, sea salt and pepper make for the perfect flavors, only perfected by a dose of garden goodness – rosemary! Sprigs and tiny woody stems of rosemary fill the house with the divine aroma of said herb and onions, roasting and caramelizing into a delicacy of delicacies.

Trust me, you probably will not have any leftover, but IF you do, save them for the base of a soup or the filling for an omelet. Rarely do I have any of these rosemary roasted potatoes left over.

Whatever is in season can be roasted with the potatoes…asparagus and carrots in early spring, tomatoes and zucchini in summer, and squashes and sweet potatoes in autumn and winter. Fresh from the farm Vidalia onions and some red onions for color were apropos for this garden meal.

This is hands down one of my favorite meals for its simplicity, elegance, and garden infusion. I hope garden living is a part of your repertoire. Allow this summer to supply your garden and kitchen with herbs a plenty! From this Farmer’s garden, kitchen, and table…enjoy!


Herb Vinaigrette

***I don’t really measure for this, so these measurements are an approximate.

  • 1/2 cup of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Tablespoon of chopped or minced garlic
  • Tablespoon of Dijon mustard…this emulsifies the solution.
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped chives
  • Juice of three lemons…Meyer preferably
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How easy is that? Rosemary and thyme work well as does parsley…this is your basic vinaigrette and you can sway it toward the season with the herbs you choose.

Chicken Marinade

***I use the same ingredients but add...

  • Half a cup of sesame oil…this is strong and tenderizing…great flavor depth
  • Sesame seeds…dust the tops of the meat with these.
  • Quarter cup of soy sauce
  • A dash or two of Worcestershire
  • The lemon rinds which I grill with the meat for essence and to release their oil


James T. Farmer III was born and raised in Georgia, where he continues to live and work as a landscape designer. He shares his love of food, flowers and photography on his blog All Things Farmer.  

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