It’s easy to get stuck in a flavor rut when it comes to cooking with herbs. You buy cilantro for taco night, and what doesn’t get used sits in the fridge until it wilts. Sound familiar? Herbs add a fresh flavor to slow-cooked dishes and even cocktails. Experiment with different herb/food pairings to discover your favorites! Want the freshest herbs? Grow your own herbs at home! Here are some herbs that I find most commonly available in markets, and that are easy to mix and match.
Parsley isn’t just for garnish. Its peppery flavor is perfect in virtually any recipe and adds a burst of freshness and color. It’s a great last minute addition to brighten up stews, and pasta – and it is delicious chopped into salads, and added to vegetable dishes. Italian flat leaf is the most flavorful compared to its curly counterpart.
Mint has a refreshing flavor that is commonly used in desserts and cocktails. Try it in Middle Eastern recipes such as tabbouleh and falafel. Steep fresh leaves in boiling water for a soothing digestive tonic. If you decide to grow mint yourself, keep it in its own pot as it has a tendency to take over any surrounding plants.
Basil goes beyond pizza and pasta. It can bring out the flavor of fresh strawberries, be blended with mayonnaise or mascarpone for a sandwich spread, and is fantastic in Thai cuisine. In fact, Thai basil is its own variety with a licorice flavor as opposed to the typical sweet Genovese basil.
People either love it or hate it, but cilantro (also known as coriander) is typically thought of for Mexican fare. It can be used in place of basil or parsley as a pesto sauce for meats or fish and added to stir fry recipes. It’s pungent aroma and flavor is wonderful when added to a mixed grain and veggie salad.