"An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks." - Charlemagne
Whether you plant them or pick them up at the grocery store or farmers' market, adding fresh herbs is a quick way to transform ORDINARY meals into EXTRAORDINARY meals.
Besides helping flavor foods when cutting back on salt, fat and sugar, herbs may offer additional benefits of their own. Researchers are finding many culinary herbs (both fresh and dried) have antioxidants that may help protect against such diseases as cancer and heart disease.
If you've always thought you'd like to plant an herb garden, now is a good time to start one. Horticulturists recommend planting herbs after the last day of frost in the spring to avoid losing plants to a late freeze.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the flavor and health benefits of fresh herbs in your cooking. And if you've ever wondered whether or not to pronounce the "h" in "herb," the answer is: In Great Britain, the h is pronounced; in the United States , it's pronounced "erb"?
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
Take some thyme (pun intended!) to cook with fresh herbs. Here are some hints as you explore what's best for you.
When Substituting Fresh Herbs for Dried Herbs
A general guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use of a dried herb. When substituting, you'll often be more successful substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs, rather than the other way around. For example, think potato salad with fresh vs. dried parsley!
When to Pick or Purchase Herbs
Purchase herbs close to the time you plan to use them. When growing herbs in your own garden the ideal time for picking is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps ensure the best flavor and storage quality.
Here are some ideas to help you start combining fresh herbs with your foods.
BASIL - a natural snipped in with tomatoes; terrific in fresh pesto; other possibilities include pasta sauce, peas, zucchini
CHIVES - dips, potatoes, tomatoes
CILANTRO - Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cooking; salsas, tomatoes
DILL - carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes
MINT - carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabouli, tea
OREGANO - peppers, tomatoes
PARSLEY - The curly leaf is the most common, but the flat-leaf or Italian parsley is more strongly flavored and often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley include potato salad, tabouli