What a Difference It Made!

This past weekend I visited with a very dear friend, Miss Nelda. Whenever I go to her house she offers me cuttings from her yard, like these:

She said to me. “Do you like basil and mint?” I told her I did and before I knew it we were walking through her yard to her herb garden. She pushed through some other plants (I don’t know what they were) and found the mint and basil. She leaned over and yanked those plants right out of the ground. I was excited because in my mind I want to be the kind of person who grows her own herbs and happily plucks them out of the garden while I’m making dinner.

Not wanting to waste the herbs I made the following dish, which ironically used mint and basil! We found the recipe on the back of the whole grain Barilla pasta box and I altered it to what you see here. Sadly I threw away the box so I don’t remember the exact name of the recipe.

Sea Shell Veggie/Chicken Pasta


  • 16 ounces shell pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 chopped tomatoes (I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • mint (fresh!)
  • basil (fresh!)
  • pepper

Directions: Prepare pasta according to directions.  Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add chicken breasts and cook until completely done. Remove chicken and keep warm. Heat additional tablespoon of oil and sautee all the vegetables. After 5 minutes add 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer for 5 more minutes or until vegetables are tender crisp. Drain pasta and put in serving dish. Top with vegetables, chopped chicken, and the fresh herbs. Serve and enjoy!

I was amazed at the difference fresh herbs made in this dish. I’ve used fresh herbs from the grocery store before but these had a flavor and odor that far exceeded the ones I had tasted in the past. So our project is to try and root the herbs she gave me so I really can have fresh herbs from my garden!

Have you ever tried to grow herbs? Ever had ones right out of the ground? What do you think? Diane

38 thoughts on “What a Difference It Made!

  1. Rachel Palmieri says:

    Between apartment living and the fact that I kill all things green, growing herbs wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do. But we are growing sage, oregano-thyme, rosemary, basil and apple mint on the balcony and everything looks pretty good! Our tomato plant is still alive too. Nothing beats fresh basil over a tomato with some fresh mozzarella!

  2. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    I love growing herbs. I used to grow basil, mint, and dill on my balcony but my new place doesn’t get nearly as much sun. I’m still trying to grow basil, and it seems to be doing OK despite the shade. Since I don’t have a backyard, I just grow them in pots on the balcony and it works just fine.

    I love to throw some basil in my salad. It gives it an unexpected fresh flavor. And mint is so good in iced tea!
    .-= Tracey @ I’m Not Superhuman´s last blog ..Rest & Relaxation. And Wine, Of Course. =-.

  3. s says:

    Oh I used to have a basil plant! In a pot…but someone stole it! WHAT?!

    That’s so sweet of her to give you her own home-grown herbs! I’ll bet that made the pasta taste ten times better! 🙂

  4. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    Yes! There is absolutely nothing like walking out to the garden, picking it and putting it on your table! This is only the second year I have a garden but oh the magic it provided last year was the motivation to do it again this year! It keeps me grounded to the wonders of daily change!
    .-= Jules – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..Women, Food, and God =-.

  5. Diane says:

    Oh, herbs are my PASSION !!! I not only grow my own in pots, but I forage wild herbs and other edibles and use them for cooking and medicine. Fresh Mint is one of the finest things in life I think, and i have been known to bury my face in a bunch of fresh basil just because I could ! Dried herbs are okay , but fresh herbs really make food dance and sing. If you are feeling adventurous, next time you make a marinara sauce from scratch add the usual basil and oregano, but also a tiny bit of mint. It adds a very surprising rich depth to the sauce. I hope you get to play with more fresh herbs and a word of warning if you attempt to grow your own mint- keep it contained in a bed or so forth or it will take over your whole yard !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Thoughts about a change =-.

  6. Deniz says:

    Ooooh, harvesting your own, freshly picked herbs is sheer bliss!

    In the old days, when I had a teensy garden, I grew all sorts (amazing how many types of mint there are – all different, all good) and going out to their scent in the evening to water them was a huge pleasure. These days I’m afraid it’s second best. Just a case of buying the ‘growing pots’ of herbs at the supermarket. Better than dried herbs but…

    Your recipe sounds great – one to try. I’ve found that including fresh herbs (especially the sweeter tasting ones like coriander or mint) in fresh leafy salads can be a a great way to convert the salad haters in the family too 😉
    .-= Deniz´s last blog ..Don’t try this at home =-.

  7. Pam says:

    I LOVE fresh herbs!

    I have: Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Mexican Tarragon, Rosemary, and Spearmint right now.

    Even drying your own makes them more flavorful than the ones you buy already dried. If you ever get hold of a delicate herb, like dill or chives, though, freeze them – don’t dry them. They lose their flavor more than others when dried, but when you freeze them? They taste just like fresh in whatever dish you choose!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..I Found The Trigger…And I Pulled It =-.

  8. Babbalou says:

    I love fresh herbs as well, and have successfully grown basil from seed – if you have a good level of sunshine, basil grown from seed will end up as large as purchased basil plants, which cost $3 each at my garden store. Also, fresh tarragon, which I’m trying to grow in the garden this year for the first time, is just heavenly in homemade vinegrette dressing – I know you don’t use dressing, maybe you could try just adding some chopped leaves to your salad? I buy it in bunches once it’s available in my farmer’s market.

  9. Carla says:

    We always have a fresh basil plant in our house all year long. In the summer I try to grow basil and parsley and rosemary on our deck, but it doesn’t always turn out! But I do love fresh herbs and I rarely use dried ones.
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Happy June 1st! =-.

  10. Emergefit says:

    Looks amazing!!! My rosemary is 6 feet from my grill 🙂 When it’s lamb, chicken, or burger time, I’m 2 steps from my herb garden and there are few highs more intoxicating than pulling some rosemary from a branch and adding it to lamb on the grill.
    .-= Emergefit´s last blog ..A Fairwell To Legs… =-.

  11. Stacy says:

    I always make sure I have my herbs planted for the summer, and I freeze them to use during the winter. It makes such a difference in cooking to use those yummy fresh herbs! I have a few that are perrenials (oregano, thyme, sage, tarragon, mint, chives) and then I plant the annuals (basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill). I love having them on hand.
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..{ remember } =-.

  12. Cynthia (It All Changes) says:

    We had wild mint in our back yard that we used to chew on as kids as we played. I love that flavor so much.

    My mom grows fresh herbs and they are fabulous. I’m going to buy some at the farmer’s market this week because I miss them. I thought we were moving so I didn’t want to start growing them. But now I can since we are not.

  13. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    Yum! That looks so good. I usually grow a pot of basil. Love homemade pesto. This year, I ended up not getting any basil plants and ran out of pots, so guess I won’t grown any this year.

    We usually grow parsley in the garden for the butterflies and don’t eat too much of it.
    .-= Lori (Finding Radiance)´s last blog ..May wrapup and goals =-.

  14. Dr. J says:

    Fresh herbs are great!! I bought a large pre-planted herb container at a plant store this year. Once I had a friend who worked for a nursery who did an herb garden for me. FIVE different kinds of basal!! Do yo know how basal got its name? The story goes it’s from basilica as it was found growing at the foot of the Cross.
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..The Drastic But Proven “50 Cent” Weight Loss Programs =-.

  15. Biz says:

    Once you grow fresh herbs, you’ll never go back! I actually plant mine in potted plants, and they are on a table outside of our gazebo so they get plenty of light.

    I separate each one because some herbs don’t work well with others, so I just play it safe. I have basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, thyme and sage – they are going strong!

  16. veryanniemary says:

    As Vickie mentioned, Mint is very very invasive. I grow mine in a pot just because of that reason. My Mom grew hers in the yard but planted it in a buried wide pvc pipe.(the pipe was vertical and quite deep so although the mint looked like it was growing in the yard – it’s roots were contained by the pipe and it didn’t spread.

  17. Elaine says:

    I have a entire PLOT of mint-talk about invasive! Another bonus of growing your own herbs is that in addition to being fresh, they’re so much cheaper. It always shocks me to see a few wilted sprigs of something going for $2.98 or $3.98 at the grocery store.

  18. Tish says:

    You’ll <3 growing mint and basil. I have them both. The mint is perennial and may eventually try to take over wherever you put it (under the hose faucet is traditional because it likes water). The basil will only last the summer. Keep it cut. When we're asked out to dinner, I often take a large fragrant bouquet of herbs (mint, basil, rosemary, sage, and thyme). The car smells wonderful, and the hostess has something she may be able to use for the next few days. If nothing else, it makes the garbage can smell great!
    .-= Tish´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday, WI =-.

  19. Julie Lost and Found says:

    I have grown them on my deck in one pot. I had basil, oregano, thyme and parsley. It is true! What a difference!

    Also, I grow a separate pot of rosemary. Oh there is NOTHING Like fresh rosemary!!! Yummmmmm!

    I’m not a big gardner..but it’s so easy to have a pot of herbs growing and it really makes a recipe yummy!
    .-= Julie Lost and Found´s last blog ..On Robins Nests and Nurturing.. =-.

  20. South Beach Steve says:

    I love my fresh herbs: Basil (sweet, cinnamon, and Thai), oregano, rosemary, etc . . . My favorite to just chew on is mint though. By the way, did you know mint is sometimes viewed as a pest plant? It will grow when and where most things will not. It also tends to overtake surrounding plants, which is why many people plant it in a pot. I have heard you can take a cutting like this lady gave you and plant the cutting and the mint will grow.

  21. Tami says:

    What a great friend.I have not grown them outside but I have grown them in a pot on the counter in the kitchen by a window. Fresh is always best!

  22. Leah says:

    I’ve never grown my own herbs on purpose, but the house we live in had mint growing in front. I don’t use it often enough to keep it growing, but someday I’d love to have a herb garden and pluck things out to cook from.

    I find that the herbs always taste best when they are fresh like that. What a treat for you. Your recipe sounds yummy as well. 🙂
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Home Sweet Home & French Women =-.

  23. Jenn@slim-shoppin says:

    I would like to grow my own herbs. I’ve bought fresh herbs. One of my favorite things I made recently was baked lemon chicken with fresh tarragon and rosemary

    In a 13 x 9 inch pan, place a little olive oil, trimmed chicken breasts (I used 4 chicken breast halves) chopped tarragon and sprigs of rosemary. Cut up 2 lemons, squeeze some of the lemon juice over the chicken, and just put the rest of the cut up lemons in the dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The herbs made all the difference in the world!
    .-= Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog ..Meet Tracey – Weight Loss Super Star!! 70 pounds gone! =-.

  24. Hanlie says:

    I haven’t had much success growing basil, which is a pity, because I love it and use it a lot. I do grow my own mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme though. Fresh herbs really transform food!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..All about Maggie =-.

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