By Judy Matusky, RDN, LDN
Fresh herbs add that special something to a recipe. They elevate simple dishes. They add brightness and interest, infusing dishes with the fresh summer flavors. Simple dishes like peas and onions with freshly snipped dill or roasted potatoes with earthy rosemary become dinner party worthy. Herbs are easy to grow. If you have a small, sunny plot of ground in your yard or room for a few pots on your patio, you have the space to grow herbs. Here are 5 of the most versatile herbs that can be mixed and matched in many of your favorite recipes.
Rosemary: Rosemary is hearty herb and native to the Mediterranean. Compared to other herbs, it has a very strong flavor and aroma so use it sparingly. Rosemary has almost a pine-like scent and taste that pairs well with chicken, potatoes, grilled lamb and olive oil-based marinades Fry the leaves in a small amount of olive oil for an interesting garnish.
Thyme: Like rosemary, thyme is another hearty herb. It grows wild along the roads of France, Italy and Greece and in the right climate, thyme will grow back each year becoming the size of a small bush. In late summer, it will blossom with tiny white flowers. Thyme is used in many dishes and it plays nicely with other herbs. You just gently strip the tiny leaves from the stem so there’s no need to chop.
Mint: There are many varieties of mint but the most versatile for cooking is spearmint. Mint can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Toss it into a grain-based salads or sprinkle chopped mint on watermelon, strawberries or ice cream. Mint is the star in Mojitos and freshly brewed iced tea. If growing mint, keep it contained in the garden or in a pot because it will spread quickly.
Dill: Dill is a beautiful herb in a garden. It’s soft, light green, feathery leaves gently sway in the breeze and glisten with dew on a summer morning. Dill adds vibrancy to fish and seafood, mixed into tuna and egg salad, tossed with roasted vegetables and added to creamy yogurt dips and dressings.
Basil: Sweet basil is the most common type of basil but you can find purple basil, lemon basil and Thai basil in many dishes. Basil is the flavor associated with many Italian dishes, playing the starring role in pesto, on top of Margarita pizza, and of course, layered in the Caprese salad. Basil brightens many foods including eggs, fish, cheese and fruit.
Try these delicious herb-forward recipes at judymatusky.com
Judy Matusky, RDN, LDN is the owner of Athens Nutrition, a private practice in Ardmore, PA. She is also the author of the culinary nutrition blog judymatusky.com, Where Delicious Meets Fast and Healthy. Follow her Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter