Herbes de Provence

I attended a week long cooking class at The Culinary Institute in Napa Valley some years ago. The class was in French Provencal cooking. During the class, I was introduced to Herbes de Provence. It is an herb blend I was not very familiar with. What a wonderful blend it is!

Herbes de Provence traditionally is a blend of herbs grown in Provence. There is no set blend or formula. The traditional version is sold in crocks or small packets to tourists in France and does not contain lavender.

To please the US tourists that identify the region with the local lavender, the Herbes de Provence in the US contains lavender and I am happy about that. I love lavender. Still it is an herb that needs to be used in moderation; otherwise it can taste like soap. A little goes a long way.

I have made my own blend, using the recipe I learned at the Culinary Institute. It comes from the cookbook by Richard Carrier, “Feasts of Provence”it and includes lavender and dried orange peel. There are many variations. Recently I bought the McCormick brand. I don’t see lavender on the ingredients list and cannot smell it, so I assume it is a more traditional recipe. I like if for most recipes. If I was going to use the blend with a tomato base, I might prefer my homemade blend with the orange peel.

Herbes de Provence pairs well with many different wines depending on it’s usage, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, White Burgundy to name a few.

You can use Herbes to Provence in many recipes. It matches well with a lot of foods. You can match it with:

Chicken dishes (think La Madeline Rotisserie chicken) http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Herbes-de-Provence-Rotisserie-Chickens-238794
Lamb :http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wine-Braised-Lamb-Shanks-with-Herbes-de-Provence-109263 or
Goat Cheese: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Scalloped-Potatoes-with-Goat-Cheese-and-Herbes-de-Provence-2999
Trout. Sprinkle inside of Trout with Herbes de Provence. Top with slices of lemon and bake en papillote (in parchment paper or foil) or with
Cod http://miahungrylongtime.com/2010/03/07/cooking-with-paper-cod-en-papillote/
Grilled Salmon Filet Sandwich http://www.herbcompanion.com/cooking/herbes-de-provence-salmon-fillet-sandwiches.aspx
Vegetables: Sweet corn risotto http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cat-cora/sweet-corn-risotto-with-herbes-de-provence-recipe/index.html
Roasted Vegetableshttp://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=726:roasted-vegetables-with-herbes-de-provence-&catid=47:side-dishes&Itemid=59

Other ideas for using Herbes de Provence:

Use in combination with Goat Cheese in omelets, scrambled eggs or with roasted red or Yukon gold potatoes or as above.

Black olive tapenade- http://recipes.wuzzle.org/index.php/54/1067

Pizza- The best pizza I have ever had was in Geneva, Switzerland. I am not sure what cheese they used (maybe Swiss cheese? Not quite but it was a white cheese!) but it was topped with Herbes de Provence and was fabulous! You could use it in place of oregano and top a traditional pizza with Kalamata olives and roasted red bell pepper, (ok you can throw a little cooked Italian Sausage on if you must).

On baked caramelized tomatoes- Core tomatoes and slice in half horizontally. Place on a baking sheet cut side up. Mix some olive oil, garlic, Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato halves and bake for about 2 hours at 325 until collapsed and well carmelized. These are great on their own, but I sometimes put them over pasta.

My two newest favorite uses are in grits (for all the French cowboys!) and on a vegetable Panini.

For the grits, I take a packet of quick cooking (I use Quaker butter flavored) grits, add ½ cup of milk, some dollops of goat cheese and a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. Microwave the grits on High for 1 minute 40 seconds. Add some light butter and enjoy.

For the vegetable Panini, cut serving size pieces of either foccacia or a nice sourdough bread. Take 3-4 medium sized asparagus per serving and put them on a toaster oven sheet mixed with olive oil. Bake for about 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees until cooked to desired doneness.

Divide bread in half as for a sandwich. Spread a light coating of goat cheese on one side of the bread, top with cooked asparagus and either roasted red onion slices (can roast with asparagus) or sliced Portobello mushroom. Throw a few leaves of basil on top. Spread the top piece of the bread with some goat cheese then sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and place on top of the vegetables to complete the sandwich. Lightly grease a preheated George Foreman grill and cook the Panini until done. Alternatively, cook on medium high in a lightly oiled skillet. Weigh down the bread to compress as in a Panini. Remove and enjoy.

I hope you will try some recipes with Herbes de Provence. 
Read more:  http://ptbcooking.blogspot.com/2011/02/herbes-de-provence.html