Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Native Mediterranean herbs grow abundantly in the warm climate and over the years even more herbs were brought there by traders, refugees and immigrants.  Egyptian records dating back to 2800 BC show herbs were being prescribed as medicine, and being used for food, cosmetics, perfumes, and dyes and due to the early spice trading routes, the region was an important place of cultural and culinary exchange.
The following are generally considered as native Mediterranean plants and can be combined in your garden to create a culinary herbscape in full sun for use in Spanish, Italian, Greek and other Mediterranean cuisine:
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) - distinguished by its strong licorice-like flavor and aroma, it is popular in confections, but is also popular in curries and stews.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) - a sweetly aromatic flavor which is slightly lemony and are an integral part of seasoning blends such as curry, marsala and recados as well as used in desserts and sweet pastries
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) - adds a unique warm, earthy flavor to dishes and is a common element is many cuisines as it compliments a wide variety of foods
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) - yields a strong anise flavor both as an herb, the stalks and leaves for fish dishes, and a spice, the seeds in breads and cakes as well as meatballs plus are found in spice blends


Garden cress (Lipidium sativum) - added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavor, it is also eaten as sprouts and the seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - edible flowers may be used sparingly to enhance the flavors of cookies, lemonade and herb blends as well as an accent in tea blends
Nigella (Nigella sativa) – seeds used as part of spice mixtures and by itself in many recipes where it is aromatic and slightly bitter
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) - a spicy fragrance and a hot, peppery that mingles well with a large number of foods including roasted meat, poultry, marinated vegetables, potatoes, and cheese and egg combination
Rocket (Eruca sativa) – also called arugula, it is popular as a salad vegetable which is subtly spicy with a taste that is nutty and peppery at the same time
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - strong somewhat piney, mint-like flavor with a hint of ginger, especially good with foods rich in fats like meats or with otherwise bland foods like potatoes
Sage (Salvia officinalis) – pleasantly pungent, lemony flavor that enhances many foods such as cheese, pork and poultry, sausages and stuffing and is believed to make rich foods more digestible
Saffron (Crocus sativus) - it only takes a few threads to add color to a dish, especially rice, and impart a warm, aromatic and pleasantly bitter flavor
Savory (Satureja hortensis) - a pleasant sweet, spicy flavor to vegetables, especially beans, plus it also blends well with different culinary herbs and can be added to soups or stews
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) - a pleasantly hot bite tempered by a savory-sweet note that makes a good substitute for salt and is a common ingredient herb blends
Some additional interesting culinary herbs from the Mediterranean:

Pine (Pinus pinea) – nuts (seeds) have a wonderful aromatic flavor and are particularly important in Spanish and Italian cuisine

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)  - eaten as a leaf vegetable, the raw leaves and stems have a crispy texture and a salty, fresh taste that makes them a good garnish but they may also be cooked like spinach. The flower buds can be used as a caper substitute.

Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) - leaves have a salty-aromatic, hot and spicy flavor that can be used fresh or pickled

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters
Psalm 24:1-2

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