One thing you will learn about going vegan is that you will be cooking a lot more. You’ll also need herbs to make your dishes taste even better. Store-bought herbs are great, but they’re expensive. And dried herbs don’t pack as much flavour as fresh herbs.
Growing my own culinary herbs is one of my favourite hobbies. It’s low-maintenance, it’s super easy, and your food will taste even better. Also, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from growing your own food.
I really love never having to purchase herbs commercially. They’re so easy to grow, it’s silly to buy them.
How to Grow Herbs Indoors
There are a lot of ways you can grow culinary herbs, but by far my favourite method is hydroponics.
Bringing soil into your house can be a hazard depending on where you live. I live in an old Victorian farmhouse, and there are cracks in the floorboards. Pests found their way through the floorboards into my culinary plants.
I went hydroponic, and I have had no issues since.
You could build your own hydroponic’s system, which is something my husband enjoys doing, or you could take the easy way, which is something I enjoy doing.
The easy way is with the AeroGarden.
What’s an AeroGarden?
AeroGarden is a company that makes a number of contained hydroponic systems to make growing produce indoors even easier than you ever thought possible.
You simply add the water, add the pods, add a splash of nutrients. Then plug it in, and let it go. It seriously took me all of 10 minutes to set it up, and half that time was trying to decide where to put it.
It only needs a power source; you add the water when the water level gets low (usually once a week). So this means you could put the AeroGarden anywhere you have access to a power outlet and a shelf. It could be in the kitchen, dining room, or even laundry room.
The AeroGarden is by no means the only way to grow a robust assortment of herbs and produce, and it’s certainly not the cheapest. It’s just been the simplest way that I found. If you have the money for an AeroGarden, I strongly suggest you check it out.
If you don’t, you can start growing lettuces and herbs hydroponically using the Kratky Method, though you will need buckets, seeds, and net pots. Kratky works best for leafy plants, and it doesn’t work very well for peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers.
• Essential Herbs for Vegans to Grow •
The first herb you can grow indoors and use for your vegan dishes is parsley.
Parsley is an herb that is relatively easy to grow, so even someone without a lot of experience gardening can grow parsley. In fact, if you’re not careful, you’ll grow way too much of it. (But at least you can dehydrate it.)
Parsley is really good when you want to make dishes with rich flavors, similar to Italian and Mediterranean dishes. You will find both flat-leaved and curly-leaved parsley varieties available.
Flat-leaf parsley has a stronger flavour than curly parsley. It’s bold and aromatic, and when you think of the flavour of parsley, you’re probably thinking of flat-leaf. Flat-leaf is also the variety that is dried.
Curly-leaf parsley is lighter and milder than flat-leaf parsley. It doesn’t hold up as well to cooking or dehydrating, but it makes a delightful addition to leafy salads and it’s a fantastic garnish.
If you’re going to grow flat-leaf parsley indoors, make sure you keep it away from your cilantro. They look a lot alike, and until you’re used to working with the plants themselves, you might have a hard time keeping them straight.
Recipes Using Parsley
- Habanero Parsley Tofu Casserole
- Lemon Parsley Sauce
- Fettuccini with Parsley Almond Pesto
- Chickpea Parsley Bowl
- Hungarian Goulash with Tofu and Parsley
There are two types of people in this world: those who love cilantro (me), and those who think it tastes like soap (my mother).
But cilantro is great for vegan dishes, especially because it’s significantly easier to go vegan if you’re cooking Asian or Latin American cuisine.
Cilantro can be grown from the seed or by getting a cilantro plant, since it is a good herb for beginners. If you are going to make salsa or guacamole, you definitely want access to some fresh cilantro at home (unless you’re like my mother).
Cilantro can be grown outside and started in the spring, even if it is still a little cold where you live. This is a very tolerant herb and can survive in many different climates. I again prefer to grow cilantro indoors, and it works out quite well. (Sometimes as I walk by my cilantro plant I just pull off a few leaves and eat them.)
Recipes Using Cilantro:
- Cilantro Quinoa Burrito Bowl
- Avocado Cilantro Dressing
- Cilantro Pesto (omit the parm to make it vegan)
- Cilantro Lime Tofu
There are so many things you can do with dill, so if you have room in your herb garden, definitely consider adding it.
Not only can you use it for dishes like cucumber salad, but it is also good with other vegetable dishes and tastes great with fish and seafood. If you want dill in the spring and summer, you should plant it a few weeks before spring begins as long as you don’t have a bad frost. It does best with full sunlight, so it isn’t the best for indoor herb gardening unless you have an AeroGarden.
In fact, when I grew dill in my AeroGarden it quickly took over because I didn’t keep an eye on it.
Though if it is going indoors, just make sure you keep it by a south or west-facing window, or augment the light with grow lights.
Recipes Using Dill:
Who doesn’t love cooking with basil? Basil is another herb that goes well in basically everything.
Plus, a little basil goes a long way, especially when you are picking it fresh from your own herb garden. This can grow well indoors in an Aerogarden, or in a container near a sunny window. Jut make sure it gets a lot of light.
You can get a basil plant at most grocery stores, and stick it in a pot. Take care to trim your basil when it starts to flower. Cut off all the flowers or the plant will go woody.
You could also grow Thai basil, which is my personal favourite. It tastes more like anise, and it has a beautiful aroma. Thai basil in vegan pho is seriously one of my favourite things ever.
Whether you prefer Italian basil, or Thai basil, these herbs are a must-have.