In my kitchen I have a multiplicity of herbs, I love them. There hardly a dish I make without adding at least one herb. I also use a lot of spices but I’ll save that for another post later this week. My love of herbs and spices means I don’t only have one herb and spice rack but in fact have a carousel, a rack, another rack, and some cupboard shelf space for the overflow. I think I’ve made my point about how important they are to me in cooking now, haven’t I! The below list of herbs are the ones I probably use most often as they’re the ones I have to replenish stock of the most. Pretty much all of them are versatile in their uses and that is why I have included them in this list. I might publish a longer list of herbs and their uses if anyone would find that useful. (Just comment in the comments below, or pop me a Tweet if you’d like that!) Here’s the list:
1. Oregano – I think I read somewhere at some point that this was really good for you and perhaps that’s why the contents of my container of oregano seems to disappear at an astonishing rate… It is a great herb to use and goes great with tomatoes, ground beef, and pork. I always use it in spaghetti bologna and any other Italian-style tomato-based sauce. This is a herb I always use dried.
2. Basil – A key constituent of Italian cooking, basil is a wonderfully versatile herb that works well with a variety of foods. This ranges from the obvious one, tomatoes, to the perhaps not-so-obvious strawberries. It can be used to successfully jazz up a simple sandwich or wrap because of its distinctive flavour. Or it can be used with equal amounts of mozzarella and tomato for the classic Italian starter or salad of ‘Insalata Caprese’ dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with black pepper. This must be one of the greatest salads ever devised due to it being exceptionally simple but exquisite in its combination of flavours – sweet, creamy, fragrant, acidic, and salty – and contrasting textures. If you want to be more experimental try using basil in a strawberry and basil sorbet or a basil, strawberry, spinach, and feta salad dressed with a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette.
3. Rosemary – A wonderfully fragrant herb, great for adding to the skin of a roast – especially chicken. It can also be used in homemade focaccia, as an infuser in extra virgin olive oil to dip freshly baked bread in, or as a way of adding flavour to potato wedges. Try some rosemary seasoned wedges and roast Mediterranean veg. with a steak for a tasty meal for the senses! One quick mid-week meat I like to cook is turkey steak and I often season it with rosemary, pepper, and sage. This is sprinkled on just before cooking, no marinading necessary, making it a super speedy way of adding some flavour to the turkey.
4. Dill – The perfect match for salmon. Use either fresh or dried but using fresh dill will give the best results and it also makes a nice garnish for the finished dish. It also makes a great sauce to accompany salmon or to use as a dip for raw pepper, carrot, and celery batons. The sauce / dip is super easy to make, simply blend about 1 tbsp chopped dill, a few tablespoons of natural yoghurt, some lemon juice, and season with freshly ground black pepper and a dash of sea salt.
5. Parsley – This is so much more than just a garnish. It is best used from fresh. Parsley adds distinctive complimentary flavour to a white fish sauce and combined with breadcrumbs makes a great herby topping for baked cod. Finely chopped parsley is also lovely added to a variety of pasta dishes just before serving.
So, that’s my top 5 herbs!
What herbs do you like? Comment below or, alternatively, pop me a Tweet, write on my wall on Facebook, or send me a message. You can also follow me on Instagram where I frequently post snaps of my food!
Copyright©HLDCblog//Helen Redman 2015.