A Quick Guide To Fresh Herbs

478422963Fresh herbs can improve and change the taste of many meals. However, inexperienced chefs are often too scared to experiment with them. It is not easy to decide which herbs to use in certain dishes. Here’s what you need to know:

Basil

Basil

Great for outdoor cuisine during the summer, this herb is sweet tasting and aromatic. It is leafy, green, fragile and easy to bruise. The leaves can be used whole or torn. Basil is an essential inclusion in tomato and mozzarella salads, and in pesto. It also works well in marinara sauce and on pizzas.

Cilantro

Cilantro

There’s no middle ground when it comes to cilantro, you either adore it or despise it. This herb is bright and unique. It has fragile, small and round leaves with lengthy stems. Commonly, it is used in Mexican, Latin American and Asian dishes. It is included in Thai curries and Vietnamese spring rolls too, although most people know it from Mexican cuisine – such as salsas and guacamole. You can slice the leaves coarsely, or use them whole.

Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosemary is a woodsy herb, with a pine and lemon fragrance. Its’ slender leaves resemble pine needles. The rosemary needles should be pulled from the sprig with your fingers. They can be used sliced or whole. Rosemary is a mainstay of Mediterranean dishes, and can withstand lengthy cooking times. This herb compliments dishes with strong flavors, and is particularly good in marinades for lamb, beef and chicken.

Thyme

Thyme

Thyme is an aromatic herb with a lemon and mint fragrance. Its’ small leaves grow on sprigs and can be used whole or sliced. This herb is extremely flexible and tasty in stews and soups, or roasted with pork or fish. Furthermore, it nicely compliments a range of vegetables, such as peas, tomatoes and carrots.

Remember that robust herbs, like thyme and rosemary, can be cooked for long periods. However, tender herbs, like cilantro and basil, ought to be added just before the meal is ready. Raw tender herbs are nice in salads too.

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26 thoughts on “A Quick Guide To Fresh Herbs

  1. My hand goes up INSTANTLY as one to whom coriander|cilantro is an anathema. The very first time I ate some in a salad I threw it all up (outside !) and that was that. The smell turns my stomach and I do my best to give it a wide berth in the greengrocers’ – but alas, they always put it right next to the parsley. Sighh …

  2. Wild thyme grows in our yard and isn’t near any runoff or farm/road pollution/etc. and we don’t use pesticides or other nasty lawn chemicals, so into the cooking rotation it goes. For those who are interested, there are often wild edibles in the yard that can be used in cooking, from marshmallows to thyme to violets; check out your local farm extension, botanical garden, possibly a university agriculture department, green-earth grocer, or places like this to see if they have information on classes that teach you how to harvest your property’s own “Wild Edibles” safely [there are also books specific to different states; for example Missouri’s Wild Edibles, something like a bible for those in that state or neighbor southern Illinois]. Great synopses and helpful identification photos here, too.

  3. This is awesome! I just started a little indoor herb garden (I don’t have a green thumb at all but tired of buying them from the store) so this is perfect information. I’m putting together a little DIY project to hold the pots too and will post soon! 🙂
    A

  4. Pingback: Grill to Oven Recipes: Squash/Zucchini | The Accidental Blogger

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