Get to Know Your Herbs: A Spring Herb Guide
Whether you buy fresh herbs, grow your own, or raid your neighbor’s garden (kidding!), you can easily enhance all your recipes with the perfect seasonings — for fabulously fragrant and flavorful dishes. Not sure which herb goes with which food? Don’t stress about spices! Just use our quick and helpful guide below, and you’ll become an herb expert in no time.
This aromatic and bright-green herb has delicate, feathery leaves that you’ll want to handle gently to avoid bruising. Dill makes a beautiful garnish on salads and soups and has a strong celery-like flavor that pairs well with salmon and other seafood, as well as grilled potatoes. For an easy dill sauce, mix the chopped leaves with plain yogurt, lemon juice, and minced garlic.
Basil plants have lettuce-like leaves that are packed with spicy flavor. This popular herb complements tomatoes, onions, and olives, which is why it’s a favorite in Italian dishes. Discard the stems and use just the leaves (you can also dry them for later use). For perfect pesto, ground fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil into a paste — and serve with pasta and parmesan. Yum!
Everyone loves this Mediterranean herb, which adds a deep, delicious seasoning to pasta dishes, meat, fish, and a variety of vegetables. Mince fresh oregano leaves and add them late in the cooking process. Or use dried oregano for longer simmering and mingling of flavors. You can dry the leaves by putting them in direct sunlight, and then store in an airtight container for year-round use.
Time for More Thyme
If growing your own, cut sprigs of thyme just before the plant starts to flower. You can add a whole sprig to season soups and stews. Or strip off the leaves — no chopping required — and mix them into Southern European and Mediterranean cuisines, such as grilled lamb chops and roasted summer vegetables.
It’s Mint to Be!
Younger mint leaves are bursting with more flavor than older ones, so harvest them in spring for the most minty taste. Pinch off the stems, and sprinkle these fragrant leaves on veal, lamb, pork, poultry, and salads. Also add sprigs to beverages such as lemonade, iced tea, and that Southern porch-sipping classic, mint julep. Or crush them into a zesty mojito!
It’s not just a decorative garnish! Parsley leaves boast a vibrant, spring-like flavor, so you’ll want to add them liberally to salads, vegetables, grilled fish, soups, dips, and cheeses. Choose parsley that’s fresh and crisp and has a deep green color. Chop the leaves, sprinkle or stir in, and enjoy!
Rosemary for Remembrance
For centuries, rosemary has been believed to improve memory, and guests will certainly remember the tantalizing dishes you season with this intoxicatingly aromatic herb. Harvest the spiky, needle-like leaves and use them to accent lamb, chicken, fish, flank steak, and braised vegetables.
A member of the onion family, chives have long green stems with a mild garlicky flavor. They’re frequently chopped and added to omelets, baked potatoes, soups, cheeses, and salads. Or mix chives with a stick of butter and minced garlic to create a savory topping for steak, fish, and veggies.
Season With Cilantro
Harvest these fan-shaped leaves when the plants are about 6 inches tall. Fresh cilantro has a grassy flavor with a hint of citrus, which adds a cooling balance to spicier foods, such as Latin, Mexican, and Indian cuisines. Try cilantro on fajita-style shrimp, coconut chutney, green mole chicken, and a refreshing watermelon salad!