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Fresh Herbs, Cooking Tips

 

by Sanura Weathers

Add flavor to your everyday meals—without the sodium—with fresh herbs. A few twigs of thyme in rice create a beautifully scented dish. Add fresh mint, basil or tarragon to lemonade for a refreshing drink. Basil isn’t the only herb to use in pesto—try parsley or cilantro. You’ll be amazed with the cooking ideas you come up with!

Save money by growing your own herbs

To avoid the expense of buying fresh herbs, try growing them on your own. If you’re new to gardening or live in an urban neighborhood without access to a backyard, growing herbs in containers can be the best way to cultivate a green thumb.

While potting your own herbs can initially be time-consuming, the plants eventually take care of themselves, as long as they’re properly watered, weeds are frequently removed, and pots are placed in a sunny spot.

Read on to learn more about how to cook with herbs and for our recommended recipes using the herbs below dried or freshly chopped.

How to Cook With Herbs

Basil

Flavor: Sweet, spicy and clove-like.

Cooking tips: Most basil recipes require just the leaves. It’s best to add basil to a dish during the last few minutes of cooking. Alternatively, mottle leaves in unsweetened teas and fresh juices for a sweet and spicy flavor.

Recommended recipes with basil:

Cilantro

Flavor: Citrusy.

Cooking tips: Like basil, add it to a dish a few minutes away from being completed, as it’s usually better uncooked. Top curry dishes with roughly chopped cilantro leaves. It’s also the main ingredient for most salsas.

Recommended recipes with cilantro:

Dill

Flavor: Mild, anise-flavored.

Cooking tips: Fresh dill is best served on a cold dish. The fronds (leaves) are beautifully displayed in floral arrangements. To preserve the look, snip the fronds with scissors instead of using a knife.

Serve dill over olive oil-roasted vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, parsnips and potatoes. Use dill as a finishing touch for vegetable purees, such as cauliflower or carrots, or in homemade recipes such as chicken with dill yogurt sauce.

Mint

Flavor: Sweet, cool.

Cooking tips: Separate the leaves from the stems. Kids can enjoy it on chopped fruit, such as melons, berries, and apples. It’s also delicious in fish recipes with tomatoes or with citrus fruit.

Recommended recipe with mint:

Parsley

Flavor: Mild, slightly peppery.

Cooking tips: To prep parsley, trim the ends and thoroughly clean leaves and stems to remove grit. Depending on the recipe, mince or roughly chop leaves and stems together. Most chefs use flat-leaf parsley in cooking and they use the curly variety as a garnish. Try promoting parsley to a main ingredient in your cooking, such as in Lebanese Tabbouleh salad.

Recommended recipes with parsley:

Rosemary

Flavor: Aromatic, piney.

Cooking tips: Rosemary pairs well with lemons, garlic and olive oil when cooking vegetables or meat. Most recipes use minced leaves. When grilling vegetables or meat, try replacing bamboo or metal skewers with sturdy rosemary stems for more flavor.

Recommended recipe with rosemary:

Tarragon

Flavor: Mild, anise-flavored.

Cooking tips: Since tarragon’s flavor intensifies the longer it cooks, add its leaves toward the end of cooking to reduce bitterness.

Recommended recipes with tarragon:

Thyme

Flavor: Robust, earthy.

Cooking tips: Thyme goes well in soups. To use in soups, try tying its twigs together with twine to add to the pot. The leaves will eventually fall off to leave behind the stems, which you can discard when done cooking.

Recommended recipes with thyme:

Learn more heart-healthy cooking tips on Go Red.