Ron Zimmerman, owner and founding chef of The Herbfarm Restaurant in Woodinville, WA, shares his secrets for using herbs in every day recipes.

eat your heart out herbs

For many people, herbs are supporting actors in a dish. But at Ron's restaurant, perched on his family's herb farm, rosemary, thyme and dozens of other earthy delights are the stars. "The more you cook with herbs, the more the flavor memories grow with you," he says. "I first made pears poached with rosemary over 20 years ago. When I make them now, they're an instant time machine and bring me back to the long-gone cackles of hens, the cooing of doves, and the general clatter of our old farm kitchen."


Experiment with herbs for dinner -- and dessert
 Ron picks thyme for most versatile: He rubs it onto lamb chops and works it into tomato sauce to slather over pizza or pasta. Herbs will also awaken sweet dishes. "I love chopped sage mixed with honey and poured over melon, and mint with any flavor of ice cream," he says.

Add herbs to a dish at different stages
 Throw some in during the cooking, and add more just before finishing. This way, you'll pull out different depths of flavor from the herbs.

There's no reason to have leftover herbs laying around
 "People don't realize you can use lots of fresh herbs when cooking," says Ron. "Don't follow the recipe and bother measuring. Just toss them in and let nature's magic have its way."