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The Gardener's Kitchen: Bay

Updated on August 30, 2009


courtesy flickr/ndrwfgg
courtesy flickr/ndrwfgg


Herbs and spices are essential for the cook who wishes to enhance the dining experience. There is a wide range of herbs and spices to choose from and it all depends upon what you are preparing and what you enjoy.

There are a few that are musts in my kitchen, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, balck pepper and last but not least, bay leaves.

Bay leaves flavour stews, soups and tomato sauces.

The bay (Laurus nobilis) tree is an evergreen that is native to Southern Europe but has since traveled around the world.

The Romans were fond of this plant and its family name Lauraceae derives from the Latin word laurus which means praise; nobilis means famous or renowned.>

The bay wreath overtime became a symbol of excellence and glory and the Latin word laureate means crown with laurels, laurel being another word for bay and the plant is often referred to as the bay laurel which is how I first came to know it.


For the Greeks, the bay tree was scared to Apollo, the god of prophecy, poetry and healing. The priestesses of Apollo ate bay leaves before presenting Apollo’s words (oracles) at Delphi. It is possible, because bay leaves in large doses have a narcotic effect; the priestesses were under its influence.

The roof of the temple of Apollo is said to have been made entirely of bay leaves possibly as a protection against disease.

The Greeks dedicated the bay to Apollo’s son Aesculapius who was the Greek God of Medicine.

Bay can be grown in a container and I had one a few years back that reached four feet high in my living room window. It provided a steady supply of fresh bay leaves for my cooking.


Bay likes the sun but be sure not to over water it. Allow the soil to dry out especially during the winter months.

Bay is an evergreen and will produce leaves all year round. This makes it a good kitchen window plant as long as you keep harvesting the leaves when you need them and trim the tree.

Quick Tomato Sauce:


1 medium onion sliced

2 cloves garlic sliced

½ green pepper diced

5 sliced fresh mushrooms

1 bay leaf

Dash basil, oregano and thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

Black pepper, sea salt and crushed chilies to taste

1 795 ml can crushed tomatoes.


1- add olive oil to sauce pot

2- put heat on high

3- add garlic, onion, green pepper, mushroom

4- heat 3 minutes, stir

5- add tomatoes

6- stir

7- add bay leaf, stir

8- cook 15 minutes stir now and then. add herbs

9- add black pepper, sea salt and serve. Over pasta, or potatoes (baked) or broccoli or brussel sprouts.

This is a quick and tasty meal.

Bay leaves flavour stews, soups and tomato sauces. Bay also goes well with salmon and some lemon.


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Bay leaf was one of my grandmother's favourites. Thanks for stopping by.

  • laringo profile image

    laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

    Bob, I grew up with bay leaf. My mom would put it in her stews, red beans, chicken and dumplings, jumbalaya and more. Of course I do the same. And of course I put garlic in just about everything. I love all the spices though.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    MD, I am please you liked the sauce add a bit more garlic and extra hot chilies. Or dice up a yellow pepper.

    Debra, lunch time. Thank you both for stopping by.

  • profile image

    Debra Myers 8 years ago

    Ohhhh,  you are making me hungry!

    I have never grown bay but I do like the flavor it gives food.

  • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

    Shannon 8 years ago from New York

    Bob- My husband made spigetti sauce Sunday night, and I fell in love with it! He is a 36 year old iron worker, but he loves to cook! (hard to imagine?)

    ANYWAY, I wanted to let you know that I copied your recipe! I wonder if I can "spice it up" so I can SHOW him up!

    Great hub Bob!