Are your dishes starting to taste a little bland and predictable? If so, why not try livening things up with herbs.
Herbs can give any dish, even an old favorite, a delicious new taste. And whether you opt for the ease and convenience of using quality dried herbs, or you prefer the fresh taste of herbs picked fresh from your very own herb garden, here are 10 herbs that should be in every kitchen.
- Basil. Basil has a strong flavor, that’s both peppery and spicy. Some types of basil also have a hint of sweetness to them. If you love Italian food, you’ve probably eaten plenty of basil, which is a mainstay in Italian cooking. Basil also goes great with tomatoes, which is why this herb is found in so many tomato sauces, not to mention in most pizza recipes. You can use basil to enhance the flavor of lamb, fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes. Basil is also one of the main ingredients in pesto sauces.
- Chives. If you like onions you will probably like chives, which have a subtle, oniony flavor. Chives and baked potatoes are a classic combination. And if you’re started to get a little bored with the scrambled eggs you eat for breakfast, try adding chives when beating the egg mixture. You can also use chives to season fish, poultry, vegetables, soups and sauces.
- Cilantro. For some people, this slightly bitter herb is an acquired taste. Some never get used to it. However, cilantro is a mainstay in Asian, Mexican and Indian cooking, and is often found in things like salsa, chutneys, guacamole and enchiladas. Cilantro also works well in chicken dishes. If you’re looking for something to garnish a plate, cilantro might do the trick since it looks very similar to parsley.
- Dill. Dill has a tangy flavor that can make any dish taste crisp and fresh. For many, the only dill in their house is in the brine in that jar of pickles they bought last week. However, dill is a great ingredient that you can use in a variety of dishes. For example, this herb works great with seafood, so you can use it to flavor any fish dish, even something like tuna salad. Dill also works well with vegetables, so you can use it in salads and potato dishes. If you make your own dips, dressings, herbal butters, or herbal vinegars, you’ll definitely want to keep some dill on hand.
- Mint. Mint has a sweet smell and a cool taste, which makes it the perfect herb to use in desserts like cakes, cookies, and sweet buns. Mint also works well in sweet beverages like tea and lemonade. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use mint in savory dishes. In fact, mint can give a savory dish a bright, fresh flavor. This herb is also a great addition to sauces and marinades.
- Oregano. Another herb commonly found in Italian cuisine, oregano has a strong, earthly flavor. Like basil, oregano goes great with tomatoes, and is often used in tomato sauce and pizza recipes. You can use oregano in marinades for beef, lamb and vegetables. And if you want to give your omelets a little kick, sprinkle some powdered or finely chopped oregano into the egg mixture.
- Parsley. Parsley is most commonly known as a garnish, and even a breath freshener. (If you had garlic or onions for dinner, try chewing on a little fresh parsley after the meal.) But parsley also has a fresh, peppery flavor that makes it a great ingredient. Parsley works especially well with grilled meats, most poultry dishes, and vegetables. Try adding a little parsley to your green salads, tossing it in with the lettuce of your choice. This herb can also give your mashed potatoes a new and delicious flavor.
- Rosemary. Rosemary has a strong aroma and a lemony flavor. You might also notice a hint of pine when you eat rosemary. This herb can be used to flavor just about any kind of meat, including fish, lamb, veal, pork and poultry. If you like making homemade bread, try adding a little crushed or finely chopped rosemary to your bread dough. Other dishes that can benefit from rosemary include soups, stews and vegetable dishes.
- Sage. This slightly bitter herb has a woodsy, minty flavor. Sage is commonly used in sausage, and also in stuffing for turkey and other poultry. Sage also works wonderfully with meats like goose, duck and pork.
- Thyme. Thyme has a lemony scent, and a flavor minty, citrusy flavor. Thyme is a great herb to use with seafood. It also works well in soups, stews, casseroles, stuffing, vegetable dishes and egg dishes. If you want to make your rice a little more interesting, throw some thyme into the hot water a few minutes before you add the rice.
Once your cabinet is stocked with these 10 must-have herbs, try a little experimenting. Adding an herb to a dish that doesn’t specifically call for it can have unexpected but delicious results.