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Snip off a few sprigs of fresh flavor

"Yes, in the poor man's garden grow far more than herbs and flowers - kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind and joy for many hours."

- Mary Howitt, 1799.



A garden of herbs is special tho' - they entice you with their heady aromas, then charm you with lush, natural flavors, and now is the time to plant some.

Few things are as satisfying as bringing fresh herbs that you have grown into your kitchen. Fresh herbs provide the ultimate spark of flavor in any great dish and can transform even the ordinary to the memorable. And herbs can be grown in very small garden plots or in clay pots on a sunny window sill.

Culinary herbs grow quickly and, because you'll be picking only a few leaves or sprigs at a time, a single clump of each type is usually enough.

Be adventuresome and use fresh herbs freely. Smell an herb and take a small bite to learn about its flavor and intensity. Use

1 tablespoon of minced fresh herb in place of 1 teaspoon dried.



Here's an easy guide

on how to use herbs:

BASIL - fragrantly sweet - Italian dishes, beef stew, lamb, poultry, omelets and egg dishes, potato salads, salad dressings, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, yellow squash, zucchini and pesto

CILANTRO - distinctive, pungent - Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, salsas, chutneys, guacamole and bean dips

DILL - fresh, sweet - Cucumbers, chicken salad, egg dishes, soups, salad dressings, dips and spreads, vegetables, breads, sauces, fish and shellfish

MARJORAM - earthy, milky, a cousin to oregano - Beef, poultry, fish, pork, lamb, egg and cheese dishes, vegetables and sauces

OREGANO - spicy, pungent - Italian, Mexican and Greek dishes, pasta sauces, chili con carne, salad dressings, vegetable soups, egg and cheese dishes, beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish

ROSEMARY - pine-like, bittersweet - Lamb, poultry, pork, potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, barbecued meats, marinades and vegetable soups

SAGE - strong, warm - Stuffings and dressings, beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, sausage, eggplant, sauces, tomatoes and bean soups

TARRAGON - licorice-like - Salad dressings, fish and shellfish, veal and poultry, egg dishes, vinegar, soups, mushrooms, beets, green beans, asparagus and sauces

THYME - sweet, pleasantly pungent - Soups, chowders, egg and cheese dishes, roasted meats and poultry, Creole dishes, stuffings and dressings, and tomatoes



SPAGHETTI WITH

HANDFULS OF HERBS

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped assorted fresh herb leaves - parsley, basil, mint, chives, thyme, tarragon, sorrel, lovage, marjoram and summer savory

2 small shallots, minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 pound thin spaghetti

freshly ground black pepper to taste



In a skillet cook the bread crumbs in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, until they are golden and crisp; transfer to a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the herbs, shallots, extra-virgin olive oil and the butter. In a kettle of salted boiling water, boil the pasta until it is al dente; drain and add it to the herb mixture, tossing to coat well. Season with pepper and salt and sprinkle it with the bread crumbs. Serves four.



Marian Platt can be reached at

683-4691 or mlplatt@olypen.com.

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