There is something uniquely wonderful about adding fresh herbs to my meals. For the untrained home cook they may seem unnecessary, however that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love the bright flavor that basil can add to a freshly made pesto or cilantro sprinkled over a homemade curry.
I’d like to explore some of my favorites with you and share how I like to use them best. In fact, although there is a time and a place for dried herbs, most professional chefs would prefer to cook with the fresh variety. They are bursting with flavor, make outstanding garnishes and are packed with tasty benefits.
Learn how you can use them to create unforgettable meals with high quality RiceSelect® rice, quinoa and pasta, whether it be a simple sauce on top or to serve alongside spring produce for an Easter side dish.
Nowadays, fresh herbs may be abundantly available at most supermarkets, however, I always choose to grow my own at home or find them at local farmer’s markets. That way I can ensure maximum flavor in my meals and reduce waste as I don’t have to purchase them in packaging or plastic bags.
As I’ve mentioned before, I keep mine in smaller pots and can easily place them in a windowsill or another area as they don’t require as much light as my other larger plants, like tomatoes. So, they are perfect for houses or even smaller apartment buildings.
My favorite spring herbs that I’ll feature include:
Plating Tip: One way I like to give my dishes a finished look is by cooking and decorating with spring flowers such as dandelions, marigolds, zucchini blossoms and lavender.
Before delving into recipe ideas with fresh herbs, it’s essential to learn how to take care of them before use in meals. Whether you are buying them from the store or cutting them from your home garden, I suggest you not wash them until right before you are going to use them. This ensures less wilt and less damage to the leaves so they keep for longer. To dry them, gently pat them with a paper towel.
When it comes to cutting my herbs, in order to maximize the flavor, I always chop them as finely as possible. This is also possible with a blade if you are blending them into a sauce such as green goddess dressing.
Now comes the fun part, learning how best to cook with your herbs and which herbs. Most chefs will tell you that adding herbs at the beginning of your cooking will create a subtle background, whereas adding them later on before serving or even as a garnish, will offer a greater punch of flavor!
I absolutely love the fresh and vibrant taste of a sauce that has been freshly blended with herbs. My favorites include olive oil-based pesto and creamy green goddess.
This Green Goddess Salad with Pearl Couscous will give any spread a burst of freshness made with a rich and tangy Greek yogurt dressing with parsley, basil and other plants that lend the springtime perfume of fine herbs. I just love simple and easy pearl couscous recipes like this.
Freshly chopped herbs make wonderful garnishes to dishes as well as a pop of color to rice bowls, lettuce wraps and classics like tabbouleh.
Many Mediterranean-inspired dishes include fresh herbs like this Chicken Shawarma Turmeric Couscous Salad topped with mint and parsley alongside cucumber, tomatoes, red onion. Try a few of these others made with Thai basil and other greens like swiss chard.
Dessert Addition: Sometimes, the perfect finishing touch to a dessert is a sprig of herbs like mint. Take this Sweet Mango Sticky Rice recipe made with coconut milk and a hint of fresh mint.
Herbs can also be cooked into dishes offering a deeper flavor that doesn’t stand out as much.
For a delicious seafood dish, I love this Wine Poached Halibut recipe is served with a side of Texmati® White Rice with dandelion greens and Swiss chard garnished with microgreens.
For something a bit more complex, I turn to the flavors of this Filipino Pork Sisig with Kimchi Fried Rice using dandelion greens, green onions and cilantro alongside Texmati® White Rice.
Stay connected with me by following @Riceselect on social media and finding moretips for home chefs here.