If you’re learning classic French cooking techniques, odds are good that you’ll season a dish with herbs de Provence at some point. This amalgamation of herbs and spices originated in the Provence region of France, and like any other blend, may seem mysterious to someone new to the kitchen. Often, a blend that may seem complex at a glance is a simple mix of common herbs that can be found in most kitchens or home gardens. With that said, there’s no reason you can’t make your own variation of herbs de Provence at home. Here are herbs normally included in this French blend:
Rosemary: This herb is easy to grow in a home garden. Rosemary is an evergreen, perennial plant that can withstand most severe weather conditions and droughts. Hence, rosemary isn’t challenging for a novice gardener to cultivate and utilize in the kitchen. As a member of the mint family, rosemary provides a strong, aromatic flavor.
Basil: Basil can easily be found in several forms at any grocery outlet. Some stores may sell basil plants that can be placed on a sunny windowsill, allowing you to take leaves for cooking as needed. More commonly, basil leaves are sold fresh in the refrigerated produce section or dried in the spice section. Fresh basil has the strongest flavor, so opt for whole leaves when making a quality herbs de Provence.
Oregano: Oregano is another perennial plant that is a good addition to any herb garden. Oregano, however, does need a lot of sun and can be easily over-watered. Harvest oregano leaves as you need them and they may be frozen to retain flavor if necessary.
Marjoram: Marjoram and oregano offer many overlapping flavors and are used interchangeably in some culture. Marjoram offers more of a piney, citrus flavor and is fairly easy to grow, though it is sensitive to the cold.
Thyme: According to Botanical.com, thyme is mostly cultivated in countries with temperate climates. There are several variations of thyme, including lemon thyme, which is named for its citrus flavor.
Lavender: This ingredient generally is only used in American versions of herbs de Provence. Lavender was added to traditional herbs de Provence to appease tourists, as lavender fields are prevalent in the region. Lavender can be added depending on the dish you are making.
Other common elements of herbs de Provence include dill, fennel, bay leaf, chevril and tarragon.