A usage guide; herb blends. Leaves, sometimes seeds, and even flowers of herb plants are used to give special flavor to foods. Chive and nasturtium blossoms, for example, make interesting additions to salads.
Each herb has a particular affinity for certain foods. Here are suggestions for some commonly used herbs.
- Basil is especially good with tomatoes, tomato sauces, egg dishes, and salads. Use it fresh if possible.
- Chives make an excellent garnish and are delicious in salads and cold soups. Use them fresh or frozen.
- Dill leaves enhance cold soups, salads, cooked vegetables, and fish; the seeds are added to pickles.
- Marjoram goes with green beans, tomatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, egg dishes, chicken, and salads. It can be a subtle substitute for oregano.
- Mint leaves give afresh taste to fruit cups and fruit drinks. Mint sauce or jelly is often served with lamb.
- Oregano is a favorite in spaghetti sauces and pizza; it’s also good in soups and salads and with chicken.
- Parsley goes with almost any food: salads, soups, stews, potatoes, and cooked vegetables.
- Rosemary enhances pork, lamb, chicken, peas, and potatoes. Use the dried herb sparingly; it’s quite strong.
- Sage is a good addition to meat loaf, sausage, and stuffing.
- Savory (both winter and summer) is often added to bean dishes, stuffing for poultry, and salads.
- Arragon is used to flavor vinegar, fish, chicken, and eggs.
- Thyme is a fine herb for sausages, stuffing, stews, cooked vegetables, and soups. Like rosemary, the dried version should be used sparingly.
The flavor of herbs is released by heat; to bring out herb flavors in cold dishes, allow them to stand for at least an hour at room temperature. If substituting dried herbs for fresh, use 1 teaspoon of crumbled, or 1/4 teaspoon of powdered for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs.
For dishes that will cook a long time, such as soups or stews, use. a bouquet garni, a small, tied bunch of fresh herb sprigs, which is easily removed. The traditional combination is bay leaf, thyme, and parsley.
A standard minced herb mixture, referred to in French cooking as fines herbs, is often added to a dish just before the end of cooking, and more maybe sprinkled on when serving. It consists of equal amounts of fresh parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives.
To prepare an herb vinegar, place clean sprigs of herbs in a bottle and cover with cool vinegar. Close the bottle and store for several weeks before use. To speed up the release of flavors, you can heat the vinegar (do not boil it), then add it to the herbs.
For a tasty herb salt, combine in a blender 7 tablespoons of your favorite dry-herb mixture with 1 cup salt.
To make a saltless herb seasoning, whirl in a blender 2 teaspoons brewer’s yeast, 2 tablespoons powdered celery leaves, 1 tablespoon powdered parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon powdered onion, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon powdered dill, 1/8 teaspoon powdered oregano, and 1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic. Store the mixture in airtight jars. Use as a substitute for salt in salads, soups, and dips.