With today’s busy schedules, it is often a challenge to put a flavorful meal on the table. Often overlooked and underused, herbs add a new flavor dimension to your meals, taking them from simple to extravagant with minimum time input. Although there is a wide range of culinary herbs available, the five must-have herbs for the home cook are parsley, rosemary, mint, sage, and thyme.
Parsley, most often used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, can spruce up any meal, with its vibrant yet subtle flavor. It can be simply chopped and used as a garnish for vegetables, fish, rice or meat. It can also be used to infuse and deepen the flavors of stews and stocks, as well as liven the flavors of a fresh green salad.
Rosemary, another Mediterranean native, is often used with poultry and meats. Its woodsy taste brings an earthy tone to meat dishes, and its strong, pleasant aroma further amplifies the flavors. It is also found in stews and soups, either whole or chopped.
Mint is a versatile and lively herb, which is widely used in desert dishes, brightening simple fruit salads, and awaking warm teas and chocolate drinks. Mint can also be used in savory dishes, as it adds a lively undertone and enlightens the heaviness of some meat-centric meals.
Sage is a wonderful herb to have around, as it can be easily chopped and added to eggs, poultry, lamb and beef, as well as stews. It adds a slight peppery taste to the meal. Sage can also be added whole on the stem, to roasted meats and vegetables, building the aroma and flavor of the meal.
Thyme is used in various cuisines around the world, mainly to add flavor to meats, stews and soups. Thyme has a strong flavor that blends well with other ingredients, and does not easily overpower them. The leaves can be stripped off the stem, or can be kept on and added whole into stews and stocks.
Not only do these herbs provide maximum flavor with minimum effort, but they are also well-known for their many health benefits. They may be bought fresh or dried at the store, or, to add even more flavor to your life, they can be potted and kept in a sunny spot in your kitchen.
Have these five herbs on hand but experiment with some other herbs from time to time to add variety.You just might find another herb you can’t live without!