There are so many choices when it comes to which herbs to use in which foods that it is often overwhelming, even for seasoned (excuse the pun) cooks.
Each herb has a particular affinity for certain foods only, and can never be used with anything else. Imagine cinnamon lavishly sprinkled over french fries!
The flavor of herbs is released by heat. Cold dishes should be allowed to stand for at least one hour at room temperature to come to it's full right.
I have made a list of the most commonly used herbs below:
- Basil - delicious with tomatoes, salads, tomato sauces and egg dishes.
- Chives also compliment salads like basil and is excellent for garnishing. It can be used in cold soups to enhance the flavor.
- Dill leaves can also be used in cold soups and salads like basil and chives, but is a really good enhancer of cooked vegetables and fish. Next time you make pickles, don't forget the dill seeds.
- Marjoram enhances the flavour of lots of vegetables, such as green beans, cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts. It is very complimentary to egg dishes, mushrooms and chicken.
- Mint leaves give lamb roasts that extra fresh taste that we have become accustomed to in our favorite restaurants. You can also try it successfully in fruit juices and smoothies.
- Origanum is the favorite spice of our Italian counterparts. Pastas and pizzas come to their fullest right with this herb. It's great with soups, chicken and salads as well.
- Parsley is great with a huge variety of foods - stews, potatoes, vegetables and is great for that dreaded garlic breath as long as it is used fresh for that purpose, not dried.
- Rosemary is a must for a Sunday pork roast. It also enhances the flavor of chicken and lamb. Try it with peas and potatoes - it's a winner!
- Sage can be used when stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey and when making meat loaf.
- Tarragon with fish, eggs and chicken is mouthwatering.
- Thyme is absolutely delicious in sausages and the traditional South-African boerewors. It transforms boring stews and cooked vegetables.
Famous Herb Blends:
- Make your own bouquet garni: Bay leaves, thyme and parsley can be tied up together in a small bouquet and used in dishes that cook for a long time like soups and stews.
- A favorite with french chefs is a minced herb mixture, called fines herbes. Use equal amounts of fresh parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil. This delicious herb mixture is sprinkled over a dish just before serving.
- Herb vinegar is made by placing a medley of fresh clean sprigs of herbs in a bottle and cover with vinegar. Let it stand for six weeks before serving - divine!
- You can even prepare herb salt to impress your guests. Blend your favorite dry herbs with salt to taste and display it in attractive shakers. Course salt works like magic.
- A quick recipe for a saltless herb seasoning:
In a blender, blend together 2 teaspoons brewers yeast, 2 tablespoons powdered celery leaves, 1 tablespoon powdered onion, 1 tablespoon of: powdered parsley, paprika, powdered dill and powdered garlic. Store in airtight containers. Make it pretty and you can even sell it for extra money!