Savor the Flavor of Herbes de Provence

Years ago, my husband returned from a business trip to southern France bearing one of the finest gifts of all: a generously sized burlap bag of herbes de Provence. When the bag was finally empty, I shed a tear—not so much because the herbs were gone, but because I couldn’t hop on a plane to sunny Provence and replenish them.

Ever since,  herbes de Provence has ranked as my favorite herb blend. The French combination of dried thyme and other herbs brings out the best in so many dishes. Besides thyme (the one essential ingredient), herbes de Provence typically contains lavender, fennel, savory, basil, and rosemary, and may contain tarragon, basil, oregano, chervil, sage, mint, and/or marjoram.

Along with the other sweet herbs such as fennel and basil, sweetly perfumed lavender  helps offset the sharp flavor of the thyme.

All of these herbs thrive in sunny Provence, though cooks traditionally used them individually. In the 1970s, spice companies created herbes de Provence as a blend of favorite southern French herbs.

Use herbes de Provence to season roast chicken, potatoes, cheese omelets, vegetable soup, fish, and just about any other dish that would taste good with thyme or rosemary.

I especially like it on roast chicken. Loosen the skin on the chicken breast and drumsticks and use your fingers to smear a blend of olive oil (or olive oil and melted butter), smashed garlic and herbes de Provence under the skin. Rub some of the olive oil mixture on the outside of the skin as well, and roast. Yum!

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