5 Top Herbs to Keep Around for Cooking

herbs

Dried herbs are great to have on hand when you’re cooking on the fly, but there’s something about the flavor and aroma of fresh herbs that really add a whole new dimension to your cooking. Whether you grow your own herbs or buy them fresh, here are some you definitely want to have on hand.

Basil

Wonderful in Italian dishes, sauces, soups and sandwiches, especially when paired with tomatoes, this herb can be stored up to two weeks in the fridge or you can freeze it by removing all the leaves and discarding the stems, rinsing the leaves and leaving to dry. Flash freeze the basil by sticking on a cookie and freezing for 30 to 60 minutes. Then stick the basil in freezer bags.

Great things to make with fresh basil:

  • Pesto
  • Margherita pizza
  • Bruschetta
  • Caprese salads
  • Add to homemade lemonade
  • Basil vinaigrette dressing
  • Tomato-basil finger sandwiches

Cilantro

This herb really isn’t one that you want to get dried. Cilantro has a bright and refreshing flavor that’s perfect added to a Latin or Asian dish. It’s typically added to a dish after it’s cooked and eaten raw. If you haven’t tried it yet, some say that it’s possible to freeze cilantro so you can use it as needed.

Great things to make with cilantro:

  • Fresh tomato salsa
  • Vietnamese spring rolls
  • Fresh mango avocado salsa
  • Cilantro lime rice
  • Lemon cilantro fajitas

Rosemary

Indigenous to the Mediterranean, this aromatic and pungent herb pairs well with many dishes like lamb, olive oil, and garlic. Fresh rosemary should can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Try storing in a glass of water with a plastic bag around the top.

Great things to make with rosemary:

  • Breads like Focaccia and yeast breads with mozzarella and/or garlic
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pizza
  • Chicken
  • Stews

Thyme

Thyme is a favorite in both American and European cooking and pairs well with lots of other herbs including savory, sage, oregano, parsley, and rosemary. To use fresh thyme, peel off the leaves from the stem by pulling through the tines of a fork.

Great things to make with thyme:

  • Risotto
  • Baked and scalloped potatoes
  • Tomato sauces
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Asparagus

Oregano

A member of the mint family, oregano is a favorite of Italian cooking, as well as Cajun and South American dishes. It is very similar to marjoram and the two are often confused. Where marjoram is sweeter and more delicate, oregano is more potent in both its aroma and taste.

Great things to make with fresh oregano:

  • Dinner rolls
  • Hamburgers
  • Pesto
  • Lemon oregano chicken
  • Oregano butters and vinaigrettes

What are your favorite fresh herbs in the kitchen and what do you make with them? I’d love to hear about it!3 Comments

5 Top Herbs to Keep Around for Cooking was last modified: February 10th, 2014 by Karrie

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