Updated: Sep 26, 2018
By Katarina Conrad
Nothing can instantly soothe my soul like smell of fresh herbs, especially Italian basil, which alone triggers happy memories of my childhood on my grandparents' farm. Herbs were growing like weeds in their garden and anytime my grandmother needed fresh parsley, she would send me to run and get it.
As a little girl lost in the vegetable garden, I would pause and pick ripe, red tomatoes and eat them like apples. They were bursting with flavor, sweet, fresh, firm and juicy, truly out of this world! My grandparents always used natural soil, proudly using animal manure to enrich it.
Now that I have a place on my own, I tend to find a way that even if I can't grow my own tomatoes and vegetables, I can still enjoy fresh herbs from my small herb garden. When they are readily available, they make cooking and flavoring of the dishes easy and enjoyable, and they bring comfort to my soul!
I think we all should have our own little organic herb garden, and also teach our kids to participate in crating and tending to it. Here are some of the herbs you can find in my garden: basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme and mint.
I like to use basil for bruschetta and pastas, parsley for soups and sauces, rosemary with roasted potatoes and vegetables. thyme for pizzas, and mint for teas and drinks.
Here is my favorite GF Bruschetta that has a rich flavor due to the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives. My entire family loves it!
My Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta
Tomatoes (2 ripe and diced)
Fresh Garlic (4 cloves minced) or Roasted for sweeter flavor.
Sun-dried Tomatoes (4-5 minced) Or Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (2 tbsp)
Kalamata Olives (6-8)
Basil (.25 cup chopped)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2-3 tbs.)
Balsamic Vinegar (1 tbs.)
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Glaze to drizzle
Toasted GF Bread
In a wide bowl, combine fresh diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside for flavors to mix. Drizzle EVOO on the bread and fresh coarse salt. Toast. Once done, drizzle balsamic glaze over the toast and place a couple of tablespoons of the tomato mix on each slice. Arrange and serve warm or cold.
How to Introduce New Food to Your Kids
Always introduce new foods with at least two old familiar dishes. That way there is something for your kids to eat if they don't want to eat the new dish. It's okay if your kids don't take interest at first. Don't try to force them. Remember that you determine, time, place and what you will serve, and they can decide to eat it or not. But there want be snack if they choose not to eat it. Keep serving it until they are used to its looks and smells. Seeing you eat it, it will inspire them to try it themselves. In my house we have a rule that if we have a new dish we all have to try a bite out of respect for the cook.
If you engage your kids in the preparation of the new dish, they are more likely to try it.
And remember: be patient and not get angry or hurt if they don't eat it. Just keep serving it. You will be surprised when one day they reach out for it!