Summer Herbs: Demystified

While most of us stick to the tried and true basil, mint or cilantro from the farmer’s market, there are tons of other incredible herbs out there that aren’t actually as intimidating as they look for the home cook. Chef Sarah Flynn has some easy, elegant recipes that use some underrated herbs that will make you feel like a farmer’s market superstar before summer ends. 

Hanging Herbs


  • Flavor: Mild, creamy garlic flavor with fresh crispness. 
  • Uses: My most favorite summer item! Perfect thinly sliced for any salad or garnish addition on any dish that might benefit from a hint of garlic essence, stock enhancer, oil and charred on the grill for garnish on top of meat or fish
  • Notes: Stalk of the garlic plant, grown above ground out of the bulb yielding garlic flowers at their ends. Even better, they last forever in the fridge! 

Recipe: Garlic Scape Salsa Verde


  • 6 garlic scapes, oiled, seasoned and charred on the grill until blackened and soft
  • 2 scallions (or ramps, in season), prepared - see above
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • Juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


  • Pulse the first 7 ingredients in a food processor until minced.
  • Stream in the olive oil and puree until blended. Season to taste and serve on top of favorite prepared summer fish or meat dish.


  • Flavor: Slightly bitter, peppery summer chicory. Tough leaves but great when cut with fat.
  • Uses: Sauteed, roasted with vegetables, garnish
  • Notes:  Inexpensive! Extremely nutritious and excellent source of vitamin C.

Recipe: Sauteed Dandelion Greens


  • 1 lb. dandelion greens, trimmed and cooked until tender in boiling, salted h20, about 10 minutes, drained and squeezed of excess water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, smashed
  • Pinch of dried red pepper flakes


  • Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering, add the garlic and red pepper and saute for about 45 seconds to infuse the oil.
  • Increase the heat slightly, add the greens, season with salt and pepper, toss well to coat and saute until glossy and well heated through.
  • Serve hot as vegetable side dish.


  • Flavor:  Lemon-y, bright and slightly sour. 
  • Uses: Awesome addition to any summer fish dish, young tender leaves for salad additions, hearty older leaves for stocks, soups and purees. Similar to zesty white wine in its uses - cuts through fat, brightens flavor
  • Notes: Flavor profile changes as season does; springs milder flavor intensifies over the summer giving way to a more bitter, acidic taste. Red-veined (most shocking in appearance and mildest in flavor) most versatile and easiest entry option

Pro-tip:  Add sorrel (any kind) to a seasonal lettuce mix to give it a try….


  • Flavor: Intense peppery and mildly spicy. Extremely pretty and similar to rosemary in appearance. 
  • Uses: Great garnish or addition to grilled meats, chopped or as petals for salad, branches for stock infusions or charred on the grill for additional smoked herb flavor
  • Notes: A classic accompaniment to the major summer herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme (part of the herbs de provence). Often overlooked in markets because of its intense flavor.

Recipe: Savory Lemon Gremolata


  • 2 Tbsp fresh savory, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest, chopped 


  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle over nicely charred meat hot off the grill for garnish



  • Flavor: Bold, peppery flowers with a hint of zesty citrus, tender greens with same but milder flavor.
  • Uses: Tender leaves and flowers in salads and for garnish, in desserts for an unexpected flavor pop or balance; pod seeds as a substitute for capers; also good for pickling or infusions
  • Notes: Becoming more and more widely available at farmers markets and organic food stores nationwide. Also a terrific substitute for a tomato plant accompaniment for the home gardener as an alternative to basil. 

Pro-tip: Use the flowers and leaves tossed into salads or as garnish as simple starter approach to this herb. Both flowers and leaves make a great substitute or addition to your favorite pesto recipe.

Sarah Flynn