Fresh herbs are one of the many delights of spring and summer. Whether you grow them in your backyard or in pots atop your kitchen island, seasonal herbs are a culinary staple. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, there is no fresher way to add flavor to all your dishes.
If your spice rack is filled with dried herbs, but you’re intimidated to try fresh herbs in your cooking, fear no more. Here, we’ll cover the basics of cooking with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, and more!
Learn the Techniques
Fresh herbs perish quickly, so pick only as much as you need. Thoroughly rinse your herbs under running water in the kitchen sink and blot dry. For tiny leaves like rosemary, thyme or oregano, hold on to the stem with one hand and strip the leaves off with the other. For large leaves like basil, parsley or cilantro, snip with kitchen shears, or use a knife and cutting board to chiffonade your herbs. For this technique, start by bunching the stems and then cut the leaves into thin strips.
Do The Math
Fresh herbs can add brightness and fresh flavor to any recipe. But if you’re used to cooking with dried herbs, note that fresh herbs are not as concentrated a flavor. If a recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried, double or triple the amount of fresh herbs when making a substitution. After cooking with herbs from your garden or the pots on your kitchen island, it’s always suitable (and also a nice touch) to add a few fresh sprigs as a garnish.
Know Your Flavors
- Basil: Sweet in flavor and aroma, basil is the go-to ingredient for tomato sauce and pesto.
- Parsley: Parsley is very versatile and has a light peppery taste. Great for seasoning just about any dish, use flat leaf for cooking and curly leaf as a garnish.
- Cilantro: A popular herb for sprinkling over tacos and grilled shrimp, cilantro has a bright flavor and is best added after cooking.
- Rosemary: This spiky herb has a pungent flavor that goes well with eggs, chicken and lamb, or in fresh baked goods. Whether dried or fresh, use it sparingly.
- Mint: Mint is a great addition to spring and summer salads. For a unique twist, try this watermelon salad with mint for your next picnic.
- Thyme: With subtle hints of lemon and mint, this woody herb is used for seasoning fish, poultry, and vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes.
- Oregano: Great for Greek salad dressing, lasagna and meatloaf, oregano has a strong, slightly bitter flavor that is hard to miss.
Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
Now that you know the techniques, ratios and flavor profiles for cooking, branch out and find new ways to use fresh herbs. Not just for seasoning meats and veggies, you’ll find a variety of fresh herbs used in some of your favorite cocktails. From Mojitos and Juleps with fresh mint, to Lemonade for grown-ups with gin and thyme, the possibilities are endless. While stocking your bar cabinets for spring and summer, don’t forget the fresh herbs!
Welcome to Willow Lane Cabinetry — the #1 place to buy affordable, semi-custom cabinets online! Let us help you create the kitchen, home office, home bar, laundry room, TV room, or bath of your dreams with our 100% free room design tool. We offer all wood cabinetry, fully assembled and delivered for free. Plus all the accessories you need to complete your remodel. Visit our website to see our products today!