H.....Howza Bout Some Herbes De Provence? - The Spice of Life... AKA: How'd this get in my spice rack? Blog at Allrecipes.com - 186237

The Spice of Life... AKA: How'd this get in my spice rack?

H.....Howza Bout some Herbes de Provence? 
Jul. 18, 2010 4:30 pm 
Updated: Apr. 27, 2011 4:32 pm
Like many other regional spice blends, the combination we've come to know as Herbs de Provence is not a recipe cast in stone. There are as many variations as there are French cooks. Savory, rosemary and thyme seem to be the constants, but the formula also includes some representatives of the following group of herbs - marjoram or oregano, sage, mint, tarragon. bay leaves, fennel and the ever controversial lavender. Sometimes even peppercorns are added.

I always thought lavender was a no-brainer - I mean, fields of fragrant purple flowers are the signature of Provence, right? Sure, some folks swear lavender must be a component of this fragrant blend, however others say that traditionally it is not. Instead, it was added for the benefit of tourists who (like me) figured that since lavender grows so abundantly in southern France, then they MUST use it everything, right?

Well, the blend I happen to have on hand is a combination of savory, thyme, rosemary, lavender and fennel seed. And while my blend is stored in my spice cabinet, "herbs de Provence" can also refer to the herbs in their fresh-picked form. Basically, the term and combination originates from whatever herbs were ready to pick during those warm summer months, and they are used both fresh and dry.

I'd say "fragrant" and "savory" would describe the flavor. Suitable for roasted meats or vegetables, as well as eggs, cheese dishes, and even salad dressings, herbs de Provence is an extremely versatile blend. Some of the ways I like to use it are:

  • Roasted chicken....I mean, really, what is more "French country" than a chicken, slathered in butter and herbs and roasted to perfection? I also like to mix it (in fresh or dried format) with some olive oil, lemon juice and a little white wine vinegar and use it as a marinade for boneless/skinless chicken breasts.
  • Oven-Roasted potatoes...this stuff was made for roasted potatoes, with olive oil and garlic, maybe some diced onion.
  • Eggs...I love omelets stuffed with veggies and oozing with cheese, but a pinch of this wonderful blend of herbs brings eggs to a whole new level. Butter, eggs, herbs de Provence....maybe a smidge of extra sharp cheddar for old time's sake! The perfect omelet.
  • Ratatouille...Oddly, I always treated this eggplant, zucchini, tomato dish as if it were Italian, with lots of oregano and basil. But try it with herbs de Provence and you will be amazed. Speaking of zucchini, I love to slice zucchini in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs de Provence and salt and pepper, then plop them on a hot grill for a few minutes. Ooh-la-la! :)
  • Garlic bread...Yeah, you heard me! Garlic, butter, herb de Provence, blended together and slathered on bread and broiled. Heavenly!
  • Did someone say butter? Whip some of this blend into some softened butter for a treat on warm, crusty bread or even corn on the cob! Or use it in recipes - pan-fry fish or drop a few dollops over fish before baking. It even compliments red meat - steak or lamb. Don't get me started on pork....
There are some great recipes here on AR that utilize this blend...Rice with Herbes de Provenceis a super easy but delicious side dish....

AR's Rice with Herbes de Provence (I used brown rice)

I also tried roasting some tomato wedges, tossed in olive oil and dipped in a mixture of panko and herbs de provence...they were delicious!
Roasted Tomato Wedges a la Provence

I also came across another interesting recipe for Onion Custard in the November 2009 issue of Country Living.

The idea of a savory custard wasn't appealing to me at first, but after delighting in the aroma of sauteed onions and herbs de provence, I was convinced it was worth a try...yum! They came out really good!

So if you haven't already, why don't you give this blend a try!

Jul. 18, 2010 5:12 pm
Great pics! I don't care for that spice myself but you make me want to eat it anyway!
Jul. 18, 2010 5:17 pm
Thanks, Tat! I think this is a mood thing for me, because I seem to recall not being too into it either! I think in the future I'm going more with the fresh herbs...I think I like it better than the dried mix. Thanks for your comment!
Jul. 18, 2010 5:33 pm
Christine M: Mine were dry, that could be my problem.
Jul. 18, 2010 9:43 pm
Wonderful blog post! Made my senses tingle and now I want in the kitchen - at this hour! Fresh is best, I agree. How I wish I lived in a climate where I could have a year round herb garden! Heck, where I am, I struggle with a seasonal one.
Jul. 19, 2010 5:46 am
Thanks, CC! I know what you mean...I am insanely jealous of those lucky enough to have year-round rosemary bushes! :)
Jul. 19, 2010 7:27 am
Nice blog Christine! I must say I love Herbes de Provence! The blend I use now does include lavender. My favorite way to use this is in roasted potatoes. I make them just like you said, olive oil, and fresh garlic and onion. I could eat a big bowl of them alone! For some reason, I actually prefer them room temperature. I never thought of adding it to eggs, which I love, so I'm going to give that a try soon. :)
Jul. 19, 2010 9:47 am
Lovely blog!!! I grow all the herbs (plus some) you talked about and I do have a year round herb garden. Haven't really cooked with lavender though. I find it bitter but then this year is the first where I'm REALLY trying to use that I grow. Discovered I LOVE rosemary and mint isn't just for sweets. Again lovely blog and pics!
Jul. 19, 2010 9:48 am
Sorry that should be "what I grow".
Jul. 19, 2010 10:24 am
Cat Lady Cyndi - Thanks for commenting! And I love roasted potatoes at room temp! In fact, I made your potatoes and feta recently and pretty much cleaned up the leftovers as I was clearing the table! I'm like that with pasta, too...just can't resist!
Jul. 19, 2010 10:25 am
Cat Hill, thank you! I think last year I tried mint in some non-sweet recipes and love it! Great in panzanella salad, as well as Cat Lady Cyndi's aforementioned potatoes & feta! ;)
Jul. 19, 2010 4:25 pm
Christine M you are welcome! Go check out my newly posted blog if you have a minute to see why I haven't used all these wonderful herbs until really trying this year. You'll get a chuckle out of my blight at least!
Jul. 19, 2010 4:26 pm
I need spell check~ that's plight uh!
Apr. 27, 2011 4:32 pm
I've never tried it until recently as seasoning for my side and main dish for Easter. This is the recipe I used for the blend, it smells and tastes amazing! I think rosemary would be a nice addition > http://busycooks.about.com/od/homemademixes/r/herbsprovenmix.htm
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Christine M

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About Me
Between work and family life, cooking is my main creative outlet. I like to experiment and try new cuisines. Here's how I determine my recipe ratings....5 STARS: Love it! Wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe one little teeny tweak or two, because, you know, that's what I do, but nothing that changes the nature of the recipe. 4 STARS: Really good! Maybe needs one or two adjustments to ingredients, seasoning or process, but a really good recipe. 3 STARS: A good recipe, but it either needs something extra or the result is just "good" - not bad, but no "wow" factor either. 2 STARS: As stated, I would not try again, but I usually find inspiration in these recipes - revamped, they could be really good, but it would take a lot of changes. 1 STAR: Would not try again as stated, and I cannot think of a way to transform into something we would like.
My favorite things to cook
Thanksgiving dinner has got to top the list - I love incorporating my family's traditions with my husband's family traditions, then adding our own new ones. As far as day to day cooking, I'm happiest when I'm baking! I like trying new things and although I like meat, I have a tendency to go through vegetarian phases every now and then.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Holiday baking, Thanksgiving Dinner are my all-time favorite traditions. I love putting together buffets - it gives me an opportunity to try a variety of recipes.
My cooking triumphs
I had always wanted to do an elaborate wedding cake, so when a good friend's daughter got engaged I offered to do her wedding cake. I was not intimidated at first, BUT they were engaged for 3 years... It went from a 50 person do-it-yourself semi-potluck reception to a 140 person elegant, catered event. I worked on it for 3 days, baking, making the two fillings and batch after batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream. My mixer even burnt out and I had to run out and get a new one at 10:30 P.M. The results? Although I saw some flaws, it really looked lovely and tasted great! It was definitely my most challenging feat in the kitchen, and so far my greatest success!
My cooking tragedies
No major tragedies, but I make the ugliest pie crust in the world, but it tastes good, so I guess that's not a total failure... Oh, I do tend to burn things...I'm usually multi-tasking, so I always forget about something until the smoke detectors start blaring. That's why I married a firefighter, I guess! ;)
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