Gone are the days when the only fresh herb you were likely to see on Australian dinner plates was a garnish of curly parsley. Now we count coriander as a trolley favourite and parsley is used in dishes rather than just on them. With bountiful bunches of herbs such as basil, thyme, sage and dill on the supermarket shelves, the only issue now is what to do with them all.
This spring, let flavoursome fresh herbs inspire your cooking. Used widely in many cuisines, herbs add interest to dishes as simple as scrambled eggs or as complex as curries and restaurant-style sauces. Use them to create depth of flavour in everyday meals.
Here’s a complete guide to fresh herbs and how to use them.
- Blend the slightly spicy aromatic leaves with olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan to make pesto.
- Use whole basil leaves to top a tomato bruschetta, or tear and add to tomato-based pasta sauces.
- Tear the pretty, spicy-flavoured purple leaves and add to Mediterranean-style salads.
- Add whole purple basil leaves to dishes that feature rice and pasta to add extra colour and flavour.
- Add the slightly peppery flavoured leaves to noodles for an Asian-inspired salad or use them as a garnish for curries.
- Team it with beef or lamb in South-East Asian dishes.
- Chop, then sprinkle this mild onion-flavoured herb over dips, fish, chicken and salads.
- Add chopped chives to omelettes and scrambled eggs.
- This herb is best added at the end of cooking.
- Also called flat-leaf or Italian parsley, it’s milder than curly parsley.
- Chop leaves and use in tabouli, gremolata or salsa verde.
- Use the strong-tasting stems to add great flavour to stocks.
- Combine with mayonnaise, then stir through a potato salad.
- Finely chop, then add to a lemon butter sauce. Drizzle over fish or chicken.
- Use as a retro garnish, especially for dishes that feature eggs.
- Use the stems and leaves of this herb in Asian and Middle Eastern inspired dishes.
- Chop the stems and add to Thai-style curry pastes.
- Sprinkle the leaves over spicy chicken and seafood dishes.
- Fry the spicy-flavoured leaves with Indian spices and add to curries.
- Grind the leaves and add to curry pastes.
- Team the leaves with prawns, lentils, potatoes and fish.
- Add the feathery leaves, with a subtle anise aroma, to a New York style smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
- Use dill to add flavour to dishes that feature egg, potato and fish,
- Chop this mild-flavoured herb, with a slight lemony aroma, and use in tomato-based sauces.
- Sprinkle over Mediterranean vegies before roasting, or use in moussaka and Greek-style dishes featuring feta, chicken or fish.
- Try this refreshing herb in both sweet and savoury dishes.
- Add chopped mint to a bowl of berries or mix it with ice-cream.
- Combine mint leaves, lemon rind and ginger to make a herbal tea.
- Team with chicken, fish or lamb.
- This herb looks similar to oregano, but it has a slightly sweeter taste.
- Pick the leaves and add to Mediterranean-style salads.
- Use in dishes featuring mild cheese, such as bocconcini.
- This woody herb with a slight camphor aroma is best when added to a dish and cooked.
- Add sprigs to dough for making scones, biscuits or focaccia.
- Use in dishes featuring parmesan, chicken and tomato.
- Add this herb to stuffings for roast meats, such as lamb, but don’t use too much as the flavour is strong.
- Sage also works well with pork and rich dishes that feature onion and butter.
- Use this slightly tart tasting herb to flavour bearnaise sauce (see related recipe).
- It works well in French-style cuisine, especially in soups and sauces, but the best flavour matches are chicken and fish.
- Use this robust-flavoured herb in slow-cooked dishes.
- Add the whole sprigs to a beef or lamb casserole.
- Use the leaves in wine-based dishes, such as sauces, marinades or French onion soup.