Spring Gardening

Cooking With Spring Herbs

Spring Herbs Growing in the GardenI love cooking with fresh produce particularly when it’s been grown in our little garden.

Herbs are certainly my favourites! Even if you have limited space, or time, given the right spot, herbs can thrive without much care, and then when it comes to cooking, they can completely transform a dish.

I’ve included a few of my seasonal favourite recipes below. They all have a herb as the key ingredient, usually one which needs pruning at this time of year!


Minted Peas

This recipe transforms frozen peas into delicious, mashed bed for roast meats. I love the balance of flavours between the freshness of this dish, and the full flavour of the roast meat and vegies.

  • 400g Frozen Baby Peas
  • Half of a Brown OnionSpring Gardening and Cooking wtih Herbs
  • Tablespoon Butter (Or Nuttelex as a dairy free substitute)
  • Generous handful of Mint chopped well (Approx. 1/2 cup)
  • Soften the Butter in a pan and add the Onions, cooking over low heat until translucent.
  • Add Baby Peas. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes, with the lid on to retain the moisture.
  • Then blend the mixture, or mash if you want a coarser appearance, and then stir through the chopped Mint leaves just before serving.
  • Generously season and serve.


Roast Pumpkin with Rosemary and DukkahRoast Pumpkin with Rosemary and Dukkah

This is a recipe I often cook on a Sunday afternoon in Spring, just to have in the fridge for the week. It’s amazing as an accompaniment to meat dishes, added to salads, and I even sneak it sliced into the kids’ salad wraps for school, making them more filling and tastier.

  • ¼ Pumpkin (Tip –  I usually purchase whatever is on sale, as when it’s plentiful it’s usually in season and fresher. Butternut and Queensland Blue pumpkins are favourites.)
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves of Aussie Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • Bunch of Fresh Rosemary. (Set aside one sprig and finely chop to ½ Tablespoon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Dukkah
  • Preheat your oven to 180.
  • Crush the Garlic to release the oils, and then place this into the Oil to fuse.
  • Cut the Pumpkin into chunks. I like to leave the skin on. It’s delicious and eliminates unnecessary food waste.
  • Place a little Oil on the bottom of the roasting pan, and add your Rosemary and Pumpkin, skin down. Sprinkle some Smoked Paprika overRoasted Pumpkin with Rosemary, Dukkah and Goats Cheese the Pumpkins. Use the remaining Oil and Garlic to coat the Pumpkins.
  • Roast at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. I usually re-drizzle the Oil in the pan onto the Pumpkin after 20 minutes. (Tip – If you want me make this quicker, simply cut the Pumpkin into smaller cubes, shake in a little more Olive Oil to coat and cook at 220 for approx. 20 minutes, or until each cube is golden brown and soft when pieced with a fork. Taste testing recommended!)
  • Finely chop the remaining Rosemary and mix through the Dukkah. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the mixture when it’s still hot. The Rosemary sprigs on the tray infuse the Pumpkin with a lovely woody flavour. The small additional to the end adds a fresher flavour.
P.S. Studies have shown this woodsy scent helps with concentration and may boost moods! Perfect before the kids homework duty! 😊

Added to a bed of greens with Goats’ Cheese and a splash of Red Wine Vinegar, this is my favourite salad!


Creamy Thyme Chicken

A midweek favourite with the kids because of the flavour, and with me, because it’s so quick I can help them with homework before bed.

IngredientsCreamy Thyme Chicken
  • 2 Large Chicken Breast
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter (Or Nuttelex for a dairy fee option)
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • ½ cup Chicken Broth (Or White Wine if you have an open bottle 😊)
  • 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice (Freshly squeezed if possible)
  • 2 Teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves and handful of sprigs to garnish
  • ½ cup Thickened Cream
  • Optional Parsley or Chives to garnish is you have them in the garden.
  • Slice each Breast into serving pieces. I usually cut thirds however the key is to keep the even thickness. Coat the breasts in the Olive Oil and season.
  • Melt 1 Tablespoon of Butter over a medium-high heat and then add the Chicken in batches. Cook for approx. 3-4 minutes per side, so that it’s aCooking Creamy Chicken with Thyme lovely golden colour and cooked through. If unsure cut open one of the thicker pieces. Remove from pan.
  • Over medium heat, add extra Butter, Onion and Garlic until the Onion is translucent. (Approx. 3 minutes)
  • Add Chicken Broth (or wine), Lemon Juice and Fresh Thyme Leaves and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir regularly.

Tip – I remove a little of the sauce at this point and set aside with a chicken portion so I can feed the dairy free member of our family. It’s delicious even before the cream.

  • Over a low heat, add the Cream, stir well and add back in the Chicken including and juices which has escaped as they rested. Heat gently (low) for another 2 minutes and it’s ready to serve.
  • Garnish with the left-over Thyme, and any leftover Lemon pieces. Parsley or Chives are also a lovely addition for garnishing if they are handy.
  • I usually service this dish with rice, or mashed potato and some greens such as broccoli or beans.


ShallotsSpring Gardening and Cooking

So, this is not a recipe, but Shallots are certainly my favourite herb to grow. It looks gorgeous in pots and is easy to grow if you have sunny spot.

I just put this on everything… steak, salads, noodles, rice dishes and scramble eggs. Peter jokes that nothing can leave the kitchen without “the green”. It just makes everything look and taste better! Plus, it turns out shallots play a role in removing toxins from the bloodstream…. What’s not to love!!

Lamb Ragu

Every Sunday afternoon in winter, you will usually find me standing by the stove with my wooden spoon, large cast iron pots, and often a wine, engrossed in cooking. It’s a routine I really enjoy.

This year winter has been really busy for our family, and so our Sunday Cook Ups have been more important than usual. Being so prepared to kick off the week means even on the busiest of school nights, we can finish the day with a home cooked meal, even when it’s essentially just a re-heat! Luckily, winter cooking with soups and curries is perfect for cooking in bulk and freezing.

One of our favourite recipes at present, which the kids have been negotiating into our cook up nearly every week is my Lamb Ragu. It’s even more popular than spaghetti Bolognaise, and the best part, it basically cooks itself!


    • 120ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 2 Organic Garlic Cloves
    • 2 Carrots, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 500g Boneless Lamb Shoulder, Trimmed and Cut into cubes
  • 2 400g Tined Tomato
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Garden Herbs, chopped finely (Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano)
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese to garnish
  • Shallots to garnish (optional)

Ragu Recipe

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a large pan over Medium Heat, and then add the Garlic, Carrots, Celery, Onion and Bay Leaves. Sauté for about 5 minutes until every thing softens. Remove this from the pan.
  • Turn up the heat and brown the Lamb. Then remove this from the pan as well.
  • Add a little water (Or juice from the Tinned Tomato) and boil.  This will deglaze the pan and release the flavours. 
  • Add everything back into the pot, including the Tomato’s and Herbs. Season, mix and bring to the boil.
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Stir regularly for approximately 2.5 hours.

I’m terrible with timing so I simply check it each time I stir. You need to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom, and that it remains moist, so you may need to add a little water if it has evaporated and looks likely to stick, or take off the lid if you think it’s too runny. It’s ready when the meat is really tender and easily falls apart. Definitely taste – test! 

Storage Tips

If you are freezing, make sure your Ragu is quite moist. Once cooled, simply place in some glass containers and freeze.

Ragu ‘Reheat’ Dinner

  • Cook pasta to the packet directions. Drain and then stir into the hot Ragu.
  • Serve with Grated Cheese and a sprinkle of Herbs and Shallots.

On our busiest school nights, I get the Ragu out in the morning if frozen, and let it defrost during the day. Then simply reheat in a pan while cooking the pasta in another pan. Then simply combine, add your garnish, and dinner is ready faster than ordering in!