The Magic of Fresh Herbs

basil

There’s a vibrancy to just-cut herbs that brings a little magic to everything you cook. Fragrant with essential oils, culinary herbs bring brightness and complexity to the simplest seasonal recipes. During these early days of summer, our farmers are harvesting basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, thyme, mint, parsley, cilantro, and chives, as well as more exotic-to-us varieties such as lovage and summer savory. Here’s a quick guide to their flavor profiles and making the most of them in your kitchen.

  • Basil – Highly aromatic with a robust licorice flavor. Excellent in pestos, as a finishing touch on pasta dishes, or stuffed into sandwiches.
  • Chervil – Delicate anise flavor. Great raw in salads or as a finishing garnish.
  • Chives – Delicate onion flavor, great as a garnish.
  • Cilantro – From the coriander plant, cilantro leaves and stems have a pungent, herbaceous flavor. Used in Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian cooking.
  • Dill – Light and feathery herb with a pungent herb flavor. Use it for pickling, with fish, and over potatoes.
  • Lemon Thyme – Sweet lemon aroma and a fresh lemony-herbal flavor. This is excellent with poultry and in vinaigrettes.
  • Lovage – Tastes like a cross between celery and parsley. Great with seafood or to flavor stocks and soups.
  • Marjoram – Floral and woodsy. Try it in sauces, vinaigrettes, and marinades.
  • Mint – Surprisingly versatile for such an intensely flavored herb. Try it paired with lamb, peas, potatoes – and of course, with chocolate!
  • Oregano – Robust, somewhat lemony flavor. Used in a lot of Mexican and Mediterranean dishes.
  • Parsley – Available in flat-leaf (Italian) or curly varieties, this very popular herb is light and grassy in flavor.
  • Rosemary – Strong and piney. Great with eggs, beans, and potatoes, as well as grilled meats.
  • Sage – Pine-like flavor, with more lemony and eucalyptus notes than rosemary. Found in a lot of northern Italian cooking.
  • Summer Savory – Peppery green flavor similar to thyme. Mostly used in roasted meat dishes and stuffing, but also goes well with beans.
  • Tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold – Strong anise flavor. Can be eaten raw in salads or used to flavor tomato dishes, chicken, seafood, or eggs.
  • Thyme – Adds a pungent, woodsy flavor. Great as an all-purpose seasoning.

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