As the weather turns chilly, dream kitchens become filled with the aroma of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices help to usher in the season — and are a must for holiday cooking and baking. But what about the often overlooked herbs that also grace our dinner table each night?
Fresh herbs are a spring and summer delight, but come autumn, it’s time to switch to the dried variety. Dried herbs can easily be substituted for fresh in any recipe. They are also more concentrated, and help to add a powerful punch of flavor to soups, stews and other hearty dishes. When stocking your kitchen cabinet spice rack this fall, don’t forget to include these seasonal staples!
Basil: Sweet, dried basil is a must-have for tomato sauce, and comfort foods like lasagna and chicken parmesan. As this popular summer herb begins to die back in cooler weather, you can dry your remaining basil leaves and store them in a dark kitchen cabinet. For an easy method from Gardening Know How, click here.
Bay: This fragrant, dried leaf comes from the laurel tree. While hard and inedible, bay helps to add depth when added to soups and slow-cooker stews. Simply drop in a whole dried leaf and let it work its magic. The longer bay simmers, the more it infuses your dish with flavor. Just be sure to remove the leaf before serving!
Parsley: Dried parsley is mildly bitter, and helps to add brightness and balance to savory dishes like fish, fettuccine alfredo, and shepherd’s pie. Versatile by nature, dried parsley can also be used in salad dressings and pairs nicely with roasted vegetables.
Oregano: This earthy herb is strongly scented and has a peppery, pungent taste. Dried oregano gives homemade pizza its distinctive, robust flavor. It is also often found in salad dressings or in marinade and dry rub recipes for lamb, chicken, and beef.
Rosemary: Rosemary is an aromatic herb with needle-like leaves. It’s sharp, woodsy scent and flavor is reminiscent of pine and citrus, with bitter-sweet notes. Extremely potent, rosemary is often used in homemade artisan breads like focaccia, or paired with rich meats, like pork roast or lamb chops.
Thyme: Highly fragrant and slightly sweet, dried thyme adds delicious flavor to herbed breads, roast beef and brisket, turkey, chicken thighs, and oven baked potatoes. It can stand up to slow cooking and braising but should be used sparingly. It should also be added early on in the cooking process to allow the flavors to mellow.
Sage: Dried sage is the characteristic flavor in Thanksgiving stuffing, and works well with savory squash and pumpkin recipes. You can also add sage to baked chicken, pork, or sausage, and to enhance the flavor of beans, gravies and sauces.
Contrary to what you might believe, most dried herbs and spices do have a shelf life and can lose potency. If you can’t remember how long it’s been since you purchased the seasonings in your kitchen cabinet spice rack, it’s best to toss them and start fresh this fall.
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