I always used fresh or dried herbs in my cooking. While growing up, many of the herbs I use today were very hard to find, but parsley and dill were wildly used in almost every dish. Cooking with herbs adds flavor and freshness to your meals. Many fresh herbs also contain valuable vitamins and minerals that do good to your body, but also the dried ones can be very useful during the cold season.
I thought that a basic guide to basic herbs you can find in my pantry would be helpful to many of you out there who would love to learn how to flavor pair and cook with herbs, so you can bring the magic of herbs into your everyday cooking.
One of the most popular herbs used in the Western Cuisine. I personally use it in almost everything savory and I love it.
Tastes good with: anything in general, but meat, salads, stews, soups are the best.
I love to go to the Farmers Market during the summer and buy bunches of parsley that I dry or freeze for the winter. Here is a guide of how to do it. Here is a recipe of a quinoa tabbouleh salad that uses parsley as one of the main ingredients. And here you have a stew made out of okra with chickpeas and pork. In the winter, you can use dried parsley, which is perfectly fine and everyone should have that in the pantry.
Leaves have a distinctive flavor similar to parsley and fennel. It is not used much in the Mediteranean cuisine, but it is used wildly in the Eastern European one. In America, dill is known as a spice used in pickled cucumbers.
Tastes good with: fish dishes, cottage cheese or farmers cheese, potatoes, vegetable salads, pickles, tomatoes.
This herb has a warm, earthy flavor and it does magic to the roasted or grilled meats. There are over 300 varieties of thyme around the world!!! Thyme was associated with health and vigor since the Greeks and the Romans, and believed to strengthen and purify the body. Today, its essential oil, thymol, it is widely used as an antiseptic and disinfectant, and infusions of thyme are believed to be an excellent remedy for respiratory and throat ailments! Thyme is also said to help in the digestion of fatty foods.
Tastes good with: roasted meats(pork, beef, veal, chicken, lamb, rabbit) or fish. For roasted and grilled meats, thyme marries well with sage and rosemary. It is also great in stews, bean and vegetable soups, stuffings, roasted potatoes and it is an essential component of the bouquet garni and herbes de Provence that are often used in Italian or French cooking.
It is wildly used in the European cuisine. The French tarragon is the most used because of it’s delicate, balanced flavor. The leaves are tender and have a slightly bittersweet flavor and an aroma similar to anise.
Tastes good with: fish sauces, eggs, cheese, soups, pickles, vinegar, chicken, stews.
It is the green, aromatic leaf of laurel tree. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. The fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. For this reason, the bay leaves are usually removed at the end of cooking the dish.
Tastes good with: vegetable and fish soups, meat stews, Indian foods, seafood, vegetable dishes, and sauces.
Here you have a delicious traditional Hungarian goulash recipe that uses bay leaf.
Used in the European, American, Latin America, and other world cuisines, oregano is an important culinary herb with an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. It is related to marjoram and mint.
Tastes good with: tomato sauces, stews, pork and veal dishes, roasted meats, especially lamb, pasta, pizza, fish, salads etc.
Here is a recipe that uses oregano- Roasted chicken and potatoes.
Closely related to oregano and mint, marjoram is used as an aromatic herb in many dishes.
Tastes good with: stews, roasted meats( beef, lamb, pork, chicken, beef), organs, like chicken livers, stuffing, eggs, soups etc.
Here you have an example where you can use this wonderful herb- Chicken livers with caramelized onions and wine
This evergreen shrub has an appearance of curved pine needle and it has an aromatic odor with slightly piny taste. Very strong and earthy, rosemary is used fresh or dried. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic and pungent of all the herbs.
Tastes good with: poultry stuffing, roasted meats, roasted potatoes, tomato sauce, pizza, focaccia bread.
Use it in small amounts due to its strong aroma.
Here you have a wonderful Italian Ribollita Soup recipe that uses rosemary.
Basil is a very popular herb in the Italian cuisine, as you already know.It is an easy to grow herb, very aromatic and delicate.
Tastes good with: olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme, tomatoes. Basil and tomatoes seem to have been made for each other – as in the beloved insalate caprese, the fresh mozarella cheese slices with fresh tomatoes and basil, as well as tomato sauces. It is also good with other vegetables, like eggplant or zucchini and of course, in pasta dishes. Lamb, fish, eggs, potatoes are also good options for this wonderful herb.
Mint is the dried leaf of peppermint or spearmint plant, with strong, sweet odor and tangy, cool taste. Generally, the mint you find in the supermarket is spearmint.
Tastes good with: jellies, fruit juices, candy, cakes, pies, frosting, ice creams, but also with potatoes, lamb, peas. It goes really well with dark chocolate desserts.
Here you have a recipe of peas where mint is used. Very delicious and easy to make!
Also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, coriander is wildly used in many cuisines around the world. The leaves are very popular in the Mexican, Chinese and Thai cuisines. Coriander is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. The Indian cuisine uses coriander for garam masala and curry sauces.
Tastes good with: The seeds are used in curries, curry powder, pickles, sausages, soups, roasted meat, stews, and ratatouille. The leaves are used to enhance salads, beans, rice, omelets, soups, lamb etc.
Here is a recipe that uses coriander- a lovely Moroccan chicken soup with chickpeas.
And here is another one that uses cilantro- A classic Mexican pico de gallo with tuna
Well, my friends, this is my list of herbs that I use in my cooking. I always have dried one in my pantry and use them when the fresh ones are not available. I hope this little guide is going to be useful to many of you, interested in pairing the herbs with different foods. Learn how to use them by experimenting in the kitchen with dishes that you enjoy making. Always start to add just a little bit of herbs to your dishes and build from there. Remember, it is easier to add, but impossible to remove once you already have them in the food.