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Simple Ways to Cook with Herbs

It can be hard to figure out what to do with all the herbs growing in the garden (or sitting in the fridge). Check out these simple ways to use herbs.

How to Cook with Herbs: pea soup with mint

Cool weather herbs like cilantro, sage, and thyme can be so easy to grow that it's not unusual to end up with an overabundance in the garden. That's great, but it can leave even experienced cooks wondering about the best ways to make use of all of it all. Let this handy guide help you pair your favorite herbs with flavors, ingredients, and dishes that will let their fresh flavors shine through.

Eye-catching chive blossoms have a peppery, oniony flavor. Use them to top salads and soups.
Eye-catching chive blossoms have a peppery, oniony flavor. Use them to top salads and soups.

Chives

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Onions
  • garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • potatoes
  • fish

Use in these foods

  • Eggs
  • soups
  • potato salad
  • sauces
  • salsa

Cilantro

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Chile peppers
  • lime
  • lemon
  • cumin
  • yogurt
  • green onions
  • chicken
  • pork
  • tomatoes
  • peanuts

Use in these foods

  • Salsa
  • enchiladas
  • chutney
Lavender field

Lavender

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Heavy cream
  • vanilla
  • lemon
  • plum
  • honey

Use in these foods

  • Ice cream
  • infused honey
  • flavored whipped cream
  • roast chicken or pork
  • lemonade

Mint

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Heavy cream
  • chocolate
  • sugar
  • orange
  • chile peppers
  • pineapple
  • mango
  • cilantro
  • lamb
  • salmon
  • shellfish
  • beef
  • English peas.

Use in these foods

  • flavored whipped cream
  • simple syrup
  • chutney
  • desserts
  • salsa
  • salad
  • pea soup
  • lemonade
Flat Italian parsley stays green in the garden summer to winter
Flat Italian parsley stays green in the garden summer to winter.

Parsley

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Apples
  • celery
  • lettuce
  • beets
  • fish
  • pasta
  • sausage
  • thyme
  • chives
  • mint

Use in these foods

  • Nearly any vegetable side dish
  • breadcrumb toppings
  • salad
  • pesto
  • sauces
  • salsa
When cutting rosemary, cut into the tender stems instead of the woody lower branches
When cutting rosemary, cut into the tender stems instead of the woody lower branches.

Rosemary

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Garlic
  • olive oil
  • orange
  • lemon
  • olives
  • white beans
  • Parmesan cheese
  • chicken
  • pork
  • thyme
  • sage

Use in these foods

  • Shortbread
  • focaccia
  • marinated olives
  • stews
  • braised meats

Sage

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Poultry
  • pork
  • winter squash
  • pumpkins
  • apples
  • Swiss cheese
  • walnuts, mushrooms

Use in these foods

  • Turkey
  • chicken
  • soups
  • vegetable side dishes
  • stuffing
Flowering thyme softens the look of a stone wall and fills the air with fragrance as you brush past
Flowering thyme softens the look of a stone wall and fills the air with fragrance as you brush past.

Thyme

Works well with these flavors/ingredients

  • Lemon
  • onions
  • Swiss cheese
  • pork
  • beef
  • chicken
  • winter squash
  • carrots
  • apples
  • mushrooms, plums

Use in these foods

  • Soups
  • savory tarts
  • stews
  • braised meats
  • roasted vegetables

3 Super-Simple Ideas to Try Tonight

Compound Butter Stir chopped fresh rosemary and thyme into softened butter along with minced shallot, salt, and pepper. Chill and use to flavor steamed veggies or to add life to plain rice or pasta.

Parsley & Celery Salad Toss sliced celery, fresh parsley leaves, and thinly sliced red onion with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add a touch of sweetness by tossing in sliced apple or dried cherries.

Gremolata Toss chopped fresh parsley with minced fresh garlic and grated lemon zest. Sprinkle over roasted or grilled steaks. (Variation: Combine chopped fresh thyme leaves, minced shallot, and grated orange zest. Sprinkle over roasted or grilled pork, chicken, green beans, carrots, or asparagus.)

For more ideas and recipes using both cool and warm weather herbs, visit Bonnie's recipe page.Article by Julianna K. Grimes, owner of Black Sheep Kitchen in Birmingham, AL.