From Garden To Table: Baked Eggs with Homegrown Herbs

Article written by P. Allen Smith

Enthusiasm for growing vegetables and herbs in the home garden is at a record high, and for me it's heartening to see such a renewed interest in food gardening - so many first-time gardeners are realizing that the best food is what you can grow in your own home garden. You don't need much space to grow edibles, especially herbs. An herb garden is hands down the easiest way to add homegrown ingredients to your meals.

Five Fab Herbs

When speaking with new gardeners I always recommend they start with my five favorite herbs ' basil, rosemary, chives, thyme and parsley. These herbs are easy to grow and easy to use in the kitchen.

Basil - Basils are a favorite annual for summer. There is an assortment to choose from including the tiny-leafed spicy globe and boxwood types to the cinnamon-spiced Thai, to the big leaves of Italian classic sweet basil.

Rosemary - Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen and has become an indispensable kitchen herb. It is a tender perennial evergreen (zone 7 and above) with a shrubby form that hails from the Mediterranean region.

Chives - Onion chives are a grassy looking perennial with onion-flavored leaves and purple blooms. The mild onion flavor is a tasty addition to any savory dish. Use the flowers in salads. These plants are perfect for containers!

Thyme - Thyme is a perennial herb that produces small leaves on wiry stems. Its spreading habit is good for softening the edges of containers and spilling into paths. Bees love the summer blooms.

Parsley - Parsley comes in two forms: curly leafed and flat leafed. The curly leaf type is a pretty garnish and a good companion plant for flowers in the garden. Flat leaf parsley, the Italian cook's choice, has a stronger flavor than curly.

Herb Gardener’s Container Garden Toolkit

One reason I recommend herbs is because they thrive in containers, so first-time gardeners don't have to commit to a large garden before they are ready. Here are a few things to have on hand before you get started.

Containers - Herbs will grow in containers both big and small. You can plant several in a window box or just one in a 6-inch terra cotta pot. I like to plant low-growing herbs like thyme and oregano in a strawberry jar.

Potting Soil - Any commercial potting soil will do. I advise you to choose one without fertilizer or water retaining crystals mixed in because herbs don't need the extra fertilizer and they prefer soil that is on the dry side.

Planting Trowel - When it comes to container gardens, a hand trowel is a must. Invest in a good one like the Troy-Bilt TBFT Flower Trowel. The 3-inch wide blade is great for scooping potting soil into containers and for digging planting holes.

Watering Can - Watering cans are a lifesaver if you don't have a nearby hose. Get yourself a big one so you don't have to make so many trips to the faucet.

Baked Eggs with Herbs

There are so many ways to use fresh herbs, but I often find that simplicity tastes best. Such is the case with baked eggs. This dish lends itself to versatility. Just combine whatever you have on hand for a meal that works any time of day.

Baked eggs are cooked in a ramekin, a flat-bottomed dish, either with or without a water bath. Liquid, most often cream, is spooned on top of the eggs to prevent them from drying out. Pre-bake any added ingredients like veggies or rice because they won't sit in the oven long enough to bake, usually only around 10-12 minutes.

Five Fresh Herb Combos

1. French bread, diced tomatoes, basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese

2. Mushrooms, caramelized onions and thyme

3. Chives and Parmesan cheese with sourdough toast

4. Rosemary, bacon and cooked hash brown potatoes

5. Parsley, feta, olives and tomatoes


The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®, March/April 2014