Cooking with Fresh Herbs – Here’s What You’ve Been Missing

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Fresh herbs can add a lot of flavors and also a number of health benefits to the food you prepare. While fresh herbs are always preferred, you can also use dried herbs to add a complex flavor that takes your meals to a different level.

Let’s understand what exactly herbs are. Herbs are leaves without woody stems. While dried herbs come with a strong flavor, their strength is quickly lost, which is why it’s best to use fresh ones that linger on for a longer time.

Herbs are different from spices as spices come from fruits, roots, bark, or other parts of the plant but herbs come from leaves.

Let’s check some commonly available herbs that can provide aroma and essence to your meals.

Basil

One of the most important herbs, basil, offers a clove like aroma and flavor. The main types of basil are Asian basils and sweet basil. Sweet basil generally goes well with tomato sauce and pesto. So if you’re planning to make spaghetti and meatballs, basil will be the perfect addition to your sauce. Asian basil goes well in soups, stir fries, stews, and curries. 

Mint

We have all used mint springs to decorate a chocolate dessert. It is also used on drinks. But mint isn’t something that’s solely for sweet stuff. It’s good for savory dishes as well. It’s a good companion in salads and is often used while cooking lamb.

There are several varieties of mint and spearmint is the best for cooking. Add mint to your tea to make it more refreshing. Or add it as a flavor in your ice cream. Mint is a herb that has several uses. 

Bay leaves

If you want a woodsy flavor in your dishes, bay leaves are the best herb to use. They can be used in veggies, stews, soups, grilled meats, and sauces. Fresh bay leaves are more expensive but dried ones are easily available. 

Make sure you add bay leaves when the cooking process starts. This way you can draw out their flavor completely. Since they cannot be eaten, they need to be removed before serving. 

Rosemary

It’s a woody and tough herb that carries a pungent aroma. Its spiky leaves can be the perfect addition to meats, soups, sauces, and stews. Since it has a strong flavor, make sure you add it bit by bit so it’s not overdone.

You can store fresh rosemary in the fridge for about a week. You can even store it with stems down in the water and it will stay fresh for a few days.

Thyme

Thyme is another popular herb and is used to flavor meats, fish, and vegetables. Just run your fingers down the stem and peel off the leaves. These leaves can be used in food preparation. If the thyme is young and the stem is soft, you can use the stem in cooking as well.

Thyme adds a nice flavor to some dishes such as roasted chicken and potatoes.

Parsley

Parsley is an absolutely essential herb that you must have in your home. You can either stock in your fridge or grow it on a small patch of land. It goes with just about anything you cook. It has a mild and grassy flavor and provides the much needed color to any dish.

Just chop up some parsley leaves and sprinkle them on top of any freshly prepared dish to make it look bright and green. Also, fresh parsley adds a burst of flavor to just about anything. You can also add lemon with parsley to enhance the flavors.

Try Different Herbs

If you’re new to herbs, you’ll find that adding them makes any food taste so much better. Try your hands on a couple of herbs mentioned here and feel the difference. 

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