Sometimes, a blend of herbs is used so often that it is considered its own flavor. Herbes de Provence is such a mixture, typically including dried rosemary, lavender, and thyme, but it may also have other herbs common in the south of France such as oregano or marjoram.
What was the impetus for this combination and why do the flavors combine so well? Likely, not much thought went into what is now classic, but rather it was a “use what you have” scenario. One theory for successfully combining ingredients is that if ingredients share flavor compounds, which the Herbes de Provence ingredients, they will compliment each other. Although this hypothesis makes sense and is somewhat calming, as it gives us a succinct way to understand flavor combinations, it only really works in Western cuisine. In Eastern Asian cuisine on the other hand, recipes frequently avoid overlapping flavor compounds. The scientist in my wishes the theory was consistent for all foods, but the artist in me is inspired by the fact that opposites can attract.
This is more of a guide than a recipe, as it can be adapted to suit your needs and ingredient availability. We foraged our herbs on a hike in France, but that doesn’t mean you can't forage or purchase the same herbs from the U.S.! I highly recommended drying the herbs yourself, as dried herbs are often sitting on the shelf for very long periods of time and can be flavorless.
- 3 parts fresh rosemary, on the stem
- 3 parts fresh thyme, on the stem
- 1 part lavender, on the stem
- Other Provençal herbs, as desired (marjoram, oregano, savory, etc.)
Allow herbs to dry by setting them apart from each other near sunlight and/or fresh air for 2-3 days. This may take longer if in a humid and/or cold climate.
Once herbs are completely dry, remove leaves from stems by running finger down spine into a bowl.
Crush herbs using a food processor or mortar and pestle to desired texture. I prefer herbs to be well, but not finely, crushed. Enjoy for up to a year.
Suggested uses: Herb-rolled chèvre (fresh or hot as in Chèvre Chaud salad), meat-rub, in olive oil for bread dipping, topping grilled vegetables.