Top 5 Herbs for your Outdoor Kitchen
If you want to get your creative juices going when it comes to cooking outdoors, using herbs in your next alfresco dish is the way to go. Having fresh herbs on hand enables you to elevate the simplest recipes to the next level, adding a delicious depth of flavour when used throughout the cooking process, or livening dishes up with a hint of freshness before serving.
We are very excited to sit down in the Grillo Studio with award-winning garden designer Tony Woods, from Garden Club London, one of the leading urban design studios in the UK. Tony gives us his 5 top herbs for your outdoor kitchen, and from his years of experience working in the garden and landscape industry, this is well worth a watch and read! Prepare for your senses to be taken on a journey of aromatic discovery.
One of my favourites for any garden is Rosemary. (This has recently been renamed Salvia, it’s been reclassified). Rosemary is really versatile. The one in the video is pro strata, so that’s a creeping rosemary. It’s brilliant in window boxes and pots in the grounds, great for ground cover. Rosemary flowers in winter. It looks good and smells amazing.
I don’t think I’ve ever cooked potatoes without using rosemary! So whether it’s on the grill or in the oven, it’s really aromatic and beautiful. It’s also fantastic popped in a gin and tonic, one of my favourite additions to that drink. So no matter how useless you think you are with plants or herbs, give rosemary a go. Always keep it growing.
My second favourite and the essential herb is thyme. The one at the Studio in the video is “compact thyme”. I use it in absolute abundance, particularly on the Grillo Gusto, as it’s fantastic for putting on any grill, for releasing those aromas and those natural oils and bringing a whole new dimension to chicken and lots of different meats. It just smells incredible as well, so when you’re sat at the bar table waiting for that food to cook, you get incredible scents in the breeze, and it really brings a barbecue scenario to life.
So this goes a little bit shrubby when it grows. Quite often you’ll find creeping thyme in the garden centre. So that’s good for ground cover, but tends to die right back in the winter. I find that with thyme you still get enough foliage through the winter to use in the kitchen. This is brilliant for taking a big bunch, and putting it over meat on the grill. So if you’ve got the heat deflector on in the Gusto and you’ve got maybe some chicken in there, whatever it is, sausage, pork or turkey, add a bunch of compact thyme, and it will transform it. And if you are sitting next to the barbecue having a drink or your friends or family waiting, the aroma is just absolutely insane.
Another little tip is that it’s great for making a refreshing tea. Apparently, the tea is great for a hangover cure. I haven’t tested that myself yet. I’m but worth a go.
Perhaps a staple of my herb garden, certainly for as many months of the year as I can, is basil. It grows in a window box in the winter, but in the summer this tastes so different, and it just gives such an incredible aroma. We use it for so many things. So on a tomato salad, basil will just lift it up to a level that’s just out of this world. So for pizza, if you’ve got a Grillo or arrangement and you’ve got a pizza oven, I would definitely say keep some basil on standby. It will give even the plainest pizza, the most awesome aroma and finish in taste.
It’s very easy to grow. So if you take a supermarket basil plant, you can divide it into three or four plants. So typically what you’ll see is you’ve got about ten different plants in one pot. You can divide those by just gently pulling the roots apart, then pot them up into some fresh compost. Those will really thrive. Doing that will give you lots more basil than if you just left the original plant in its pot. That will keep you going most of the summer. And in the worst-case scenario, you have too much basil. Can you ever have too much basil?
4. Greek Basil
The second type we have in the video is Greek basil. So this has a smaller leaf, and it’s a bit more of an intense flavour. But what I find is really good about Greek basil is because it has a smaller leaf, when you pick it, it’s really good for spreading and for sprinkling on pizzas or salads or cheese.
Greek basil smells absolutely amazing, so that’s another really good one. This one here in the video was bought from the supermarket, and divided nicely into two plants. But you can see it’s really, really healthy and it’s got lots to come now and it looks great. It will add a lovely green flourish to any outdoor kitchen and herb garden.
Oregano is a herb that I wasn’t really keen on originally. It grows at an incredible rate, and it can sometimes get out of control, but the more I’ve barbecued, the more I know what a useful herb is. Not only can you use it indoors, but you can use it outdoors. You can dry it for winter, but it’s particularly good on the grill and on the barbecue.
This is a really good flavour enhancer and it stands the heat and it stands the test of any grill, whether it’s gas or whether it’s charcoal. It’s a really great herb that pairs really nicely with lots of meats, as it has particularly strong flavours. It’s very hardy, very tough, you can pick it, you could walk on it, you can chop it down, you can cut it back as much as you want. It’s very robust.
Dressing with Herbs
“I know the top 5 herbs for outdoor cooking, but how do I integrate them into my outdoor kitchen” you might ask. This video explains how the Grillo Vantage outdoor kitchen can be dressed with herbs. Tony digs into how the new Slatted system, in particular the hang it hold it, will bring your kitchen to life and introduce vibrancy into your outdoor cooking experience.
Who is Tony Woods
Tony has a diverse background in the garden and landscape industry from plant production to design. He founded Garden Club London in 2012 and has worked hard to put the company firmly on the garden design map as one of the leading urban design studios in the UK.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winner, Author and passionate horticulturist, it is Tony’s job to create the company’s garden design concepts and develop planting schemes with his expert eye for detail and creating a sense of atmosphere in a garden. Tony is a fully registered member of the Society of Garden Designers and an accredited BALI Designer.