In our last article we talked about growing fresh herbs at home. But how do you choose what to plant? What flavors go best with what types of food? And most importantly, what flavors does my family enjoy? Well you know your family best, but we can help you discover a little more about herbs!
We’ve put down our cutting boards and put on our research caps, so read on to find out more about the most popular herbs, their characteristics and common uses.
Basil—Basil is probably one of the most common herbs around. Used fresh it adds a distinct peppery, sweet; slightly anise-like flavor. A staple of Mediterranean and Italian dishes, basil is great in soups, stews, anything tomato, and meats. Add it fresh to salad, or use it to make your own pestos!
Pair with: tomato, garlic, onion, cilantro, mint and fennel.
Cilantro—Hands down, cilantro is the freshest of the fresh! Whenever you want to add a refreshing flavor to your dishes, add cilantro! A trick to remember is to add cilantro to your dish AFTER it has finished cooking. A staple in both Mexican and Indian cuisine, cilantro (a.k.a. coriander) is lovely in curries, chilies; salsa’s and sprinkled in salads. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Pair with: spicy curries, soups, cayenne, lemon/lime and pepper
Parsley—Parsley offers a mild peppery, but crisp and clean flavor. It is truly complimentary to just about any flavor, and it is used in EVERYTHING! As a garnish or for its flavor, parsley will add a punch of color to your dish. Its best added at the end of cooking for optimal flavor and color.
Pair with: carrots, parsnips, tomato, garlic, onion, mint and chives
Mint—Mint is often thought of as a sweet flavor, but it is incredible in savory dishes. Middle Eastern and North African dishes rely on mint as a staple, and for good reason. It adds a peppery but cooling touch to dishes. Freshen up your salad, drinks and sauces with a sprig of mint.
Pair with: Lamb, pork, poultry and fish, potatoes, salads, fruit, lemon, yogurt and marjoram
Rosemary—Rosemary resembles pine and has a similarly pungent flavor. One of the strongest aromatic herbs, rosemary is great for hearty dishes. It adds a deep foresty touch to your foods, and goes great in autumn recipes.
Pair with: Root vegetables, roast meats, potatoes, vinaigrettes and Mediterranean recipes
Thyme—An all-time classic...used in everything from fish, poultry to vegetables. Thyme is noted for its sweet yet pungent flavor. Use it in soups, stocks, sauces and stews. A staple of French cuisine, it is notably used in the herb blend “Herbs de Provence.”
Pair with: Lamb, fish and poultry, tomatoes, rosemary, marjoram, parsley, oregano and bay leaf
Oregano—Oregano is a very bold and strong flavor. A staple of Italian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine; oregano will add depth to any dish. Use it in tomato sauces, to season lamb or chilies, goat’s milk cheeses and roasted meats, root vegetables and in vinaigrettes.
Pair with: Goat cheese, olive oil, tomato, saffron, lemon, garlic, marjoram and thyme