Fresh herbs can add a special zip to any dish. They’re plants packed with flavor that can be used by the sprinkle or the handful. Essentially, they’re a must-have for any home chef who wants to add depth and flavor to dishes. Whether you have an herb garden of your own, or store-bought herbs you need to use ASAP, here’s a guide to six popular fresh herbs and how to use them.
Basil is a sweet herb with a faint flavor of licorice and cloves, and is used to make the delicious savory Italian sauce pesto. Basil can be used in a variety of dishes, including sandwiches and salads, but its best friend is the tomato. Use basil for a caprese sandwich or salad, made with tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. You can also use basil in pastas and on pizza.
Parsley has a mild, grassy flavor that gets along with just about everything. Whether using it as a garnish to add a bit of color or chopping it up for some texture, parsley should be a staple herb in every kitchen. Sprinkle some on grilled fish, steak or roasted potatoes. Parsley makes a great addition to salads like tabbouleh, and is even mild enough to put in a smoothie!
Cilantro is divisive yet versatile. It’s peppery in flavor with some subtle hints of anise. It looks very similar to parsley, so make sure you double-check the label or give it the smell test. (Parsley doesn’t have much of a scent, whereas cilantro is more pungent). Cilantro adds a sharp, distinct flavor to salsas, stews and salads. It also pairs well with fish and chicken dishes.
Dill’s light leaves offer a fresh, citrusy yet subtly sweet flavor. It’s excellent with seafood — especially salmon — and goat cheese omelettes. Mix dill in cream cheese or cold yogurt to make a delicious dip, or add it to cucumber and potato salads.
Rosemary is one of the most aromatic, flavorful herbs you can use. It has an evergreen, citrusy flavor that’s reminiscent of lemon. Rosemary makes a great addition to roasted lamb, tomato sauces and breads like sourdough and focaccia. But definitely go easy on this herb because it’s flavorful even in small doses.
Fresh mint is sure to brighten any plate — or cup! You can add it to drinks, including tea and lemonade, or cocktails like mojitos and mint juleps. When it comes to food, mint is a classic pairing for lamb, and can be mixed into a variety of salads.
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