One of my favourite things about spring and summer is planting my herb garden. Something says amazingly delicious when the simplest thing delivers flavour like no other.Although I love planting everything–tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, eggplant, kale and everything else–those herbs just shine a little brighter.
Basil: Closely related to mint, basil has a floral flavor and aroma. There are two main types of basil: Sweet/Italian basil and Asian/Thai basils. Sweet basil pairs naturally with tomatoes, eggplant, and other Mediterranean cuisine, but is versatile and goes well with many dishes. but it can be used with almost every type of meat or seafood. Asian basil has a more distinct flavor and is often used in curry and stir fry.
Parsley: With a light peppery flavor, parsley goes well with many flavours. It’s most often used for colour and freshness. There are two main varieties: flat-leaf or Italian parsley is best for texture and flavor. Curly parsley is best as a garnish.
Cilantro: Also called coriander, this herb has a bright, refreshing flavor. You love it or you hate it, but it’s a staple of Latin and Asian cooking, and a key in guacamole and Indian curry.
Oregano: This herb is primarily found in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, it actually is often more flavorful as dried. It is also handy to have on hand, as it can be used as a substitute for marjoram..
Mint: Its cooling, peppery taste is great for savory dishes, especially summery salads and calming teas. Use it to garnish your favourite desserts, too.
Rosemary: This woody herb has a strong flavor, so use sparingly. It’s a great complement to roasted potatoes, or used as flavor in soups and marinades.
Thyme: Delicious with a simple flavor, this herb can be used in nearly all types of cooking and all vegetables and meats. To use fresh thyme, run your fingers along the stem to remove the leaves, then chop well.
Dill: The fronds of the dill plant have a subtle, yet distinct taste, great with seafood and vegetables. It perishes quickly, in about 3 days, so only cut what you need.
Handling and Storing
So after we plant them, how do we keep care of them? Some can be pre-washed, but others should wait until just before use. Large-leaved herbs such as basil and Italian parsley can be washed refrigerated in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel. To elongate their life, stand them on end in a glass of cold water, and cover with a plastic bag. Herbs such as parsley, mint, and cliantro can last up to two weeks this way.