The Robust Herbs

Last week I talked about fragile herbs. This week, of course, I’ll share my favourite robust herbs. As counterpoints to their sensitive kin, robust herbs grow well and are often perennial, they don’t mind the sun or the cold (but not a deep freeze!), and you can chop, slice or mince them without damaging their leaves.

Here are my favourite robust herbs and for many people, the most commonly used robust herbs. 



This pine-like herb is great fresh or dried and adds a depth and flavour to everything from stews, soups, potato dishes, and meat dishes. Try rosemary in bread stuffing (see recipe) or a shepherd’s pie (see recipe)


Thyme is a must-have herb in Cajun and French cooking and is warming and flavourful in stews and casseroles. It works very well with bean and lentil dishes too. Thyme combined with rosemary is a dynamic duo! Check out my recipes for roast chicken thighs and bread stuffings below. 


Savoury is a must-have herb for flavouring lentils and legumes and sausage meats. Mt. Scio Summer Savoury is unique to my home province, Newfoundland, and adds the most incredible flavour to soups, stews and bread stuffing. 

Oregano and marjoram

Oregano is a well known herb commonly used in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking. That might be because it pairs well with acidic vegetables such as tomatoes and is wonderful in salad dressings, marinades and sauces. Marjoram is oregano’s milder-tasting kin and works well combined with oregano. 


Sage and poultry are a match made in heaven. I like to mix sage with mayonnaise and garlic as the perfect dressing in a turkey or chicken salad sandwich. Sage also works beautifully in bread stuffings (see recipes) and pairs well with autumn fruits and vegetables such as apples, squashes, and pumpkins. Try frying fresh sage leaves in butter and serving as a crispy and flavourful drizzle over pumpkin or squash-based pasta dishes too. 

All of these herbs are easy to grow outside from spring until the first frost or in containers inside. If grown outdoors in warmer climates where there is no frost, rosemary especially can be grown as bushes or hedges.

Here are Some Excellent Recipes that Highlight the Flavours of Robust Herbs

Creole Seasoning

This is a great seasoning for any creole or Cajun dish. I use it for the creole fish and creole shrimp. While this recipe makes 2 cups, halve the amount if you don’t think you will use up the whole recipe within 6 months.


As with all spices and herbs, store in a cool, dark place. 


Makes about 2 cups



2 Tbsp

onion powder

2 Tbsp

garlic powder

2 Tbsp

dried oregano

2 Tbsp

dried basil

1 Tbsp

dried thyme

1 Tbsp

ground black pepper

1 Tbsp

ground white pepper

1 Tbsp

ground cayenne pepper

5 Tbsp


3 Tbsp


Crispy Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs

Create rich, complex flavours by using fresh butter and herbs and first high-heat cook  and then lower-heat finishing roasting.

Makes 2-4 servings

4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)

4 Tbsp butter, softened

2 cloves garlic, grated.

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup minced fresh thyme and rosemary

Olive oil for drizzling

Salt and pepper



  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Place the pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet

  3. Combine the butter, half the minced herbs, garlic, and sea salt to make an herb butter.

  4. Rub approximately 1 Tbsp herb butter underneath the skin of the chicken.  

  5. Drizzle the chicken with a little olive oil and rub the oil over the skin. Sprinkle the remaining herbs on top of the chicken and then season with salt and pepper.

  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375F and bake an additional 30 minutes until the thermometer reads 180F (80C) when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh muscle or the chicken juice runs clear

Traditional Newfoundland Dressing

This easy recipe makes 4 servings, ideal for accompanying chicken breasts, a whole cooked chicken or 4 pork tenderloin chops. 


Mount Scio summer savoury is only available from Newfoundland and it’s used extensively in Newfoundland cooking. You can substitute regular savoury for Mount Scio summer savoury. 

2 cups fine breadcrumbs

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp Mount Scio savoury

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish with a lid.
  4. Cook covered for 30 minutes until the onions are soft and the breadcrumbs are a little brown.

Sausage and Apple Holiday Stuffing

My daughter, Erica, and I love this sausage apple stuffing: It is done in the oven and it’s packed with flavour. I love this recipe because it can be made ahead of time, frozen, and reheated.   



Makes 6 servings

¼ cup butter

2 medium apples, peeled, cut into large cubes

1 tsp honey

1 tsp red wine vinegar

4 slices, bread cut into ½” cubes

2 links, spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, broken into bite size pieces

3 leaves, sage, fresh, cut into thin strips

2 tsp fresh thyme 

1/3 tsp fresh rosemary 

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly

2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

2 parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise

Chicken stock

Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.  
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat until it melts and starts to brown. Add the apples and reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring until tender for about 4 minutes. Stir in the honey and vinegar.  Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  3.  Melt more butter in the same pan over medium low heat.  Add the bread cubes and toss to coat.  Transfer the bread cubes to one side of large baking sheet.  Add the sausage meat to the other side.  Bake until the sausage is cooked, and the bread is toasted, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sausage and bread to the apples.  Add the sage, thyme, and rosemary.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
  5.  Heat more butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and parsnips and 1 tablespoon water.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies until they’re soft about 8 minutes.  
  6. Then add to the sausage apple bread mixture and toss everything together. Taste and adjust the seasoning while the mixture is warm. 
  7. Add the chicken stock to the bowl and mix everything to moisten all the ingredients.
  8. Spray a 9” x 11” baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer all the stuffing mixture into the dish and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until golden brown for 30 more minutes.