I love Provence, the golden corner of France that stretches from the Alps to Mediterranean, and from the Rhone to Italian border. I love the people, the sun, the brightly colored houses, the mounds of flowers, but most importantly, I love the food. Although I have never explored beyond Orange, my armchair cookbook travels take me to Provence frequently, particularly in summer.
Beautiful, sun-kissed summer days in Maine, purple lavender in full bloom, tiny thyme blossoms, fragrant bunches of basil, fronds of fennel blowing in the breeze, garden-fresh vegetables all remind me of Provence and inspire me to cook. To capture the essence of this venerable cuisine, I’ve been making jars of Herbs de Provence.
There is no set recipe for Herbs de Provence, as really, “jars” of Herbs de Provence first became available to consumers in the 1970’s when the French spice company Ducros (now part of McCormick & Company) starting making them. I had one once. It was a sweet, Provencal-looking crock. The combination of savory, marjoram, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers was exotic, the fragrance heady, and it made the food taste wonderful.
Jars of Herbs de Provence are available, but it is easy and much more economical to make your own. When shopping for herbs and spices, visit your local health food stores and coops. They turn their inventory more quickly and have fresher products which cost much less per pound.
Our Provencal inspired summer go-to way to cook is grilling. The smoky, earthiness of vegetables on the grill always tastes better. The preparation process is simple; wash and trim the vegetables, cut them into pieces that will grill easily, rub them with oil and toss with Herbs de Provence. Once prepped, these veggies will store for several hours, even days in the refrigerator, which makes them perfect food for a potluck barbeque, camping or boating trip.
Herbes de Provence
- 2 tablespoons ground rosemary
- 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons dried savory
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon dried bay leaf powder
- To get ground fennel and rosemary, use a spice grinder, food processor or mortar and pestle and finely grind dried rosemary and fennel seeds. Four tablespoons of dried herb yields about 2 tablespoons of finely ground herb.
- Mix all herbs together and store in an airtight container.
- Makes about 1 cup mix.
Grilled Veggies with Herbs de Provence
- 2 inch onions peeled and cut into ½slices
- 2 summer squash or zucchini sliced into wedges
- olive oil
- Herbs de Provence
- Heat the grill. Slice the veggies, coat with olive oil and herbs. Grill, turning frequently, until soft and cooked. Serve at room temperature.