Fresh herbs add so much flavor to your food. They’re high in phytonutrients and offer a major flavor punch without adding lots of extra calories. Many are also thought to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Here are my top 4 favorite herbs and how I use them:
Basil is one of my all time favorite fresh herbs. It’s also one of my favorite scents! Basil is known as the “king” of the herbs for its beautifully unique flavor. It grows well in a window sill and is best used fresh.
Uses: Pesto, Basil Lemonade, mixed with salad greens, sprinkled over a pizza fresh out of the oven, Caprese salads with fresh tomatoes, sprinkled over fresh soup, tossed with pasta dishes, and even added to smoothies.
I used to think cilantro tasted like soap – fortunately, I grew out of it and now I want it on everything. This herb pairs great with avocado, chiles, lime, garlic, tomatoes and coconut milk. Cilantro is also best used fresh and makes a perfect garnish to nearly every dish. It’s found in traditional cuisines from all over the world including countries like Mexico, India and Peru. It’s also present in many Asian and African dishes. Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant – its flowers are dried and used as coriander seeds which are an important component of many curry and garam masala spice blends. Adding cilantro also gives your meals a boost in Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Iron.
Uses: Salsa, guacamole, pestos, mixed with salad greens, mixed into rice with lime juice, mixed with Asian-style noodle dishes, folded into fresh spring rolls, Mexican-style breakfast hash/egg scramble, mixed into curry or dal dishes, and mixed into homemade chutneys.
Mint has been used for centuries as a breath freshener and deodorizer. This herb can also help to soothe upset stomachs, reduce nausea and alleviate decongestion. Mint has a reputation for taking over gardens so you may want to grow it in its own planter.
Uses: Tea, smoothies, sprinkled over fresh fruit (especially watermelon and berries), added to desserts, garnish for ice cream, mixed with salad greens, blended into yogurt sauce, added to couscous dishes, and chopped into Southeast Asian-inspired dishes.
Thyme is part of the traditional French bouquet garni along with bay leaves and peppercorns and is added to infuse flavor in soups, sauces and broths. This herb is used in zaa’tar, a flavorful Middle Eastern spice blend along with sesame seeds and sumac. In addition to its savory taste, thyme contains Vitamin C and may help to support the immune system. Here is a fabulous trick for getting the leaves off the stem.
Uses: Added to stews and soups (you can add the whole sprigs to the pot while you’re cooking, but be sure to remove them before serving), tossed with vegetables and roasted, mixed into rice dishes, as a garnish to Middle Eastern-inspired dips, mixed into tomato sauces, and added to salad dressings.
What herbs do you use the most?