Welcome to the next installment of my Meet the Spice Blend series, where I'm sharing the inspiration for, back stories of, and uses for my ever-expanding collection of small batch, handcrafted spice blends. Next up, let's meet Herbes de Provence!!
The Inspiration - Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is a blend of aromatic herbs originating from the Provence region in the southeastern part of France. With a history dating back centuries, this unique culinary mixture is deeply rooted in the rich cultural heritage of the area. The blend typically includes a medley of dried herbs that capture the essence of the Provençal countryside. Originally used by medieval villagers to preserve and enhance the flavor of their seasonal dishes, Herbes de Provence has become an integral part of traditional French cooking and is renowned for its versatility in enhancing a wide array of recipes. Its popularity gradually spread beyond France, finding its way into kitchens worldwide, where it continues to be cherished for its distinctive aroma and delightful taste.
When I started A Bite of Good in the Summer of 2020, there was no question that Herbes de Provence would be among my lineup of small batch spice blends. Not only was it a blend that I have been making for my own home cooking for years, but, at a time when travel was impossible due to the pandemic, anything that provided a sense of escape was a welcome distraction from reality. My version starts with freshly ground fennel and rosemary, along with whole thyme leaves, marjoram, savory, basil, tarragon, chervil, peppermint, and, finally, a sprinkling of lavender. It's a symphony of scent and flavor and if you just close your eyes you can almost visualize yourself walking through the Provençal countryside.
Flavor Profile - Herbes de Provence
The robust and earthy notes of freshly ground fennel and rosemary form a bold foundation, while the whole thyme leaves add a subtle, woodsy essence. The aromatic marjoram and savory contribute a slightly sweet and peppery undertone, harmonizing beautifully with the delicate anise-like flavor of basil and tarragon. The addition of chervil infuses a hint of citrusy freshness, complementing the cool and invigorating notes of peppermint. Finally, the touch of lavender imparts a touch of floral elegance, evoking the captivating scents of the Provençal countryside. Together, this small batch version of Herbes de Provence creates a symphony of flavors that enhances a wide range of dishes, capturing the essence of the region's culinary heritage and delighting the senses with every use.
Versatility in the Kitchen - Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is a versatile culinary blend that can elevate a wide variety of dishes. Here are some suggestions on how you can use it in your home cooking:
1. Roasted Vegetables: Toss your favorite vegetables like carrots, potatoes, or zucchini with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of Herbes de Provence before roasting them in the oven. The herbs will add a delightful depth of flavor to the vegetables.
2. Grilled Meats: Before grilling chicken, pork, or fish, season them with Herbes de Provence and a bit of olive oil. The blend will infuse the meats with a fragrant aroma and enhance their taste.
3. Soups and Stews: Add a pinch of Herbes de Provence to your soups and stews to impart a savory and comforting essence to the dishes.
4. Herbed Butter: Mix Herbes de Provence with softened butter and refrigerate. Use this flavorful compound butter on bread, grilled corn, or steamed vegetables.
5. Ratatouille: Enhance this traditional Provençal vegetable stew by incorporating Herbes de Provence during the cooking process. It complements the vegetables and enriches the overall taste.
6. Seasoned Olive Oil: Combine extra-virgin olive oil with a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence and let it infuse for a few hours. Drizzle this aromatic oil over salads or use it as a dipping sauce for bread.
7. Herbed Quiches and Frittatas: Mix Herbes de Provence into your quiche or frittata fillings for a burst of delightful herbal flavors.
8. Pasta and Grain Dishes: Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over pasta dishes, rice, or couscous to add a touch of the French countryside to your meals.
9. Herbed Marinades: Create flavorful marinades by blending Herbes de Provence with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and your choice of herbs and spices. Use it to marinate chicken, fish, or tofu before cooking.
10. Seasoned Salads: Add a pinch of Herbes de Provence to your salads for a unique twist on traditional greens, adding depth and complexity to your dressing.
11. Herbed Goat Cheese: Upgrade your next cheese and charcuterie platter by rolling a log of fresh goat cheese in Herbes de Provence.
Remember to experiment and adjust the quantity of Herbes de Provence to suit your taste preferences. The beauty of this blend lies in its ability to enhance various dishes, allowing you to infuse your home cooking with a taste of the enchanting Provençal region.
A Bite of Good Recipes that use Herbes de Provence
Looking for some more concrete guidance on how to use Herbes de Provence? Check out these A Bite of Good recipes!
Ratatouille Skillet Pizza - Packed with absolutely gorgeous veggies and a combo of both mozzarella and goat cheese, along with a sprinkle of my Herbes de Provence, this might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of making pizza, but it promises to be one you'll return to again and again.
Herbed Butternut Squash Soup - An herbal twist to a tried-and-true soup recipe? Sign me up.
Spring Tortellini with Pancetta and Goat Cheese - Packed with some of the season's most iconic produce but hearty enough to stave off the still-cool Spring evenings, this dish hits all the right notes, and does so in less than 20 minutes.
Savory Herbal Scones with Goat Cheese - I am a HUGE proponent of having baked goods like scones and muffins in the freezer to grab for breakfast on busy mornings, and, as someone who prefers savory to sweet dishes, this is one of my favorite options.
Ratatouille Stuffed Pasta Shells - Giant pasta shells get the French treatment in this delightful vegetarian make-ahead meal. Pro tip: Split this recipe among a couple of smaller baking dishes rather than just one large one, and freeze one of the dishes for another night.
Magic Quiche - I call this recipe Magic Quiche because you can pretty much throw together whatever combination of ingredients suits you, and it somehow always tastes amazing. One of my favorite flavor combos, however, involves pancetta, asparagus, and, of course, my Herbes de Provence.
Ready to get your own Herbes de Provence? Get it here.