Everyday Food Blog

A Guide to Fresh Herbs

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All this week's recipes have something in common—fresh herbs! If you're intimidated when a recipe calls for a herb you're not familiar with, well don't be, read on to find out what the common herbs look like and which foods they pair well with.

Thyme is actually a member of the mint family and has small leaves on a woody stem. It pairs well with foods like poultry and tomatoes. Use thyme by pulling the leaves off whole, chopping them, or throwing the entire sprig into the pot. Go outside of the box by mixing up some refreshing Thyme Lemonade.

Basil is best known for its use in Italian recipes, but it's also featured in other cuisines including Thai or Chinese. It has a subtle peppery flavor. This herb is often added last minute to cooked dishes because it will wilt and oxidize from the heat (and you want to keep that fresh green color!). It's also the main ingredient in pesto. Try using basil in Roasted Eggplant with Basil.

Tarragon is a slightly bitter herb with a flavor and aroma similar to anise (licorice). It goes well in fish or shellfish dishes and is a main ingredient in Bearnaise Sauce. You can also use it to spruce up a plain chicken salad.

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is often used in Mexican dishes, like Cilantro-Lime Rice or Tacos with Tangy Cilantro Chicken. Some people with a genetically predisposal think it tastes like soap, including Julia Child (she hated it). Add it to dishes at the last minute (like basil).

Mint is sweet and refreshing and is a great addition to drinks or fruit salads (especially in the summer). Try a Minted Pea Mash or Zucchini Ribbons with Mint.

Parsley has a slightly peppery taste and comes in curly or Italian (flat leaf) varieties. You can deep-fry it alone, use it as a garnish, or sprinkle some on top of pasta, poultry, or fish dishes. Try giving pesto a twist in this Fetuccine with Parsley Pesto dish or make some Israeli Couscous with Parsley and Shallots.

Dill has a flavor that combines hints of parsley, anise, and celery. It's often paired with salmon. Try our Roasted Salmon with Herbed Yogurt or the equally delicious Chicken, Lemon, and Dill with Orzo.

Oregano is earthy and intense. It pairs well with lemon (for a Greek flavor) or tomatoes. Try Grilled Chicken with Oregano and Lemon or Roasted Lamb with Garlic and Oregano.

Chives come in two types—onion or garlic. The chives pictured (above) are onion chives and have—what else—a slight onion flavor. Chives are a delicious addition to omelets or also to salads, like tuna or potato. Use this zesty herb in a Potato Chive Pancake or Spaghettini with Lemon Zest and Chives.

Sage has an earthy flavor that makes it great in stuffings for meat or the filling for sausages. Give it a try in our Chicken Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage or Chicken with Prosciutto and Sage.

 

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