View Full Version : Using Fresh Herbs

05-20-13, 01:20 AM
Some pretty handy dandy tips on which herbs work best with what, prep tips, etc.:

Basil –

Flavor: Sweet and fresh

Prep: Basil leaves are delicate so a sharp knife is necessary. Roll them up tightly and slowly slice or chop.

Tips: Add to a dish right before serving. Basil can be substituted for mint in most recipes.

Pair with: Tomato sauce (no added salt), pastas, salads, low sodium salad dressings, low-fat, low sodium pizza, low fat, low sodium soups, summer vegetables, eggs, chicken and fish dishes

Simple Dish: Layer slices of tomato, low-fat, low sodium mozzarella and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and a few shakes of black pepper.

Cilantro –

Flavor: Refreshing

Prep: Also delicate, cilantro needs to be gently chopped.

Tips: Do not cook fresh cilantro - instead, add to a dish just before serving.

Pair with: Beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, avocados, rice, salads, low sodium salad dressings and low sodium, low-fat yogurt sauce

Simple Dish: Mix together black beans, corn, chopped red bell pepper, chopped jalapeņo pepper, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

Mint –

Flavor: Sweet and cool

Prep: Since mint is similar to basil, prepare the same way.

Tips: There’s a reason gum and toothpaste is mint flavored, you can chew it to get a clean tasting mouth!

Pair with: Fruit cups, carrots, cucumbers, salads, peas, lamb, beans, desserts, unsweetened ice tea, water and low-fat/fat-free, no added sugar yogurt

Simple Dish: Chop up watermelon and cantaloupe. Mix mint, honey (1/2 teaspoon) and low-fat/fat-free, no added sugar vanilla yogurt together. Serve over fruit.

Oregano –

Flavor: Earthy

Prep: Strip the leaves from the stem. Discard stem and firmly chop leaves right before using.

Tips: A common combination in Greek dishes is oregano, mint and lemon.

Pair with: Tomatoes, no added salt tomato sauce, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, beans, mushrooms, eggs, low-fat, low sodium soups, salad, low-fat, low sodium pizza, pastas, beef, oily fish and chicken

Simple Dish: Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, oregano and mint. Pour over cooked red potatoes.

Parsley –

Flavor: Light and fresh (Italian flat leaf). Slightly peppery (curly)

Prep: Gently chop both stems and leaves. Add to a dish during the final minutes of cooking or right before serving.

Tips: Italian flat-leaf parsley looks a bit like cilantro and is the most versatile in dishes. Curly leaf parsley has little curly leaves.

Pair with: Chicken, egg dishes, fish, seafood, low-fat, low sodium soups, salads, potatoes, pork, pasta, tomatoes, no added salt tomato sauce, carrots and eggplant

Simple Dish: Whisk together olive oil with lemon juice and parsley, mint, garlic and chives. Serve over white fish like cod or flounder.

Rosemary –

Flavor: Woodsy and lemony

Prep: Pinch your finger and thumb at top of stem and firmly pull down length of branch to remove leaves. Discard stem and firmly chop leaves.

Tips: Because rosemary is such a strong tasting herb, use in small amounts.

Pair with: Roasted root vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, beef, lamb, oily fish, shrimp, pears, apples, fiber-rich whole grain breads and low-fat, low sodium soups

Simple Dish: Use sprigs of rosemary as skewers to grill shrimp.

Thyme –

Flavor: Lemony and light

Prep: Remove leaves similar to you prepare rosemary but more gently as thyme is delicate. Since the leaves are so little, you don’t need to chop them.

Tips: Add at the beginning of cooking process for the best flavor.

Pair with:, chicken, beef, carrots, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and low-fat or fat-free, low sodium: soups, chowders, stews

Simple Dish: Add chopped tomatoes, onion, olive oil and thyme to a roasting pan. Slow roast for one hour at 300 degrees for a delicious chunky tomato topping.