It has to be summer.

It may not feel like it outside: Rain has graced us almost every day of May. Guests spent Sunday’s holiday cookout huddled under the patio eaves and hunkered down in the basement. My kids’ friends were placing odds on whether I’d get the burgers grilled outdoors or have to rush them to the oven.

But the garden is growing, and the herbs were big enough last week to give me a cup of tender leaves.

That’s all I needed. Paired with Dijon mustard, Meyer lemon juice and our ever-present olive oil, I mixed up my favorite marinade and slathered it over bone-in chicken pieces.

The beauty of this concoction is its diversity:

  • Use it to marinate poultry, beef or pork;
  • Spoon it over sauteed fish fillets or shrimp fresh off the grill;
  • Toss it with roasted vegetables, or drizzle it over crudites.

The lemon, wine and herbs give give flavor and acidity. The mustard adds tang. The olive oil gives savoriness, depth and a luxurious mouth-feel.

Forecasts call for warmer weather and sunshine next week. Which means the garden herbs will really start growing.

That’s good. I plan to use them for this sauce all summer.

Garden Herb Summer Sauce

Use this as a sauce, a marinade or a dip. Play around with whatever herbs you like. Really good olive oil and Dijon mustard are the only must-haves.

  • 1 cup assorted herbs (I used dill, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth or white wine
  • Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • Olive oil

Finely chop the herbs and place them in a bowl.

Add the mustard, wine, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add enough olive oil to make a loose paste. Slather over meat; spoon over fish; or toss with vegetables.