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Using Fresh Herbs and Pairing them with Foods

 

Using fresh herbs and pairing them with foods is not a recent question, but one that has existed throughout the ages.  Reading recipes from as far back as the Biblical days, we see herbs being used with stews, lamb, venison, oils, and vegetables just to name a few.  One of my favorite times of the year is the day I get to plant my seedlings and transplant them into my herb garden.

Like a mother hen, I am expectantly watching my herbs grow that I  planted indoors a few weeks ago in the hope of getting a jump start for the spring growing season!  It is so exciting for me to see how using different herbs in basically the same dish change  the entire flavor, intensity, and mood of the dish.
Stacy's Foundation Planting of Herbs

Stacy’s Foundation Planting of Herbs

Experimenting with herbs, for me as a cook, is my duty and my passion!  They make a dish sing, make vegetables come alive, intensify meat, gently flavor fish, and make oils, vinaigrettes, and pestos complete!

Throughout all of history people have used herbs medicinally as an antiseptic, antibiotic, or even as a relaxant. As you can see, herbs are a cook and a wife and mother’s best friend!  My favorite herbs for medicinal purposes will be posted to a later blog.

Really, I think if used correctly almost any herb can be used for any food.  I must admit that I do have my favorites that I consistently use for certain dishes.  I hope this is a very useful tip and a “keeper” for use in your own kitchen, especially on those nights you want to cook quickly with out a recipe.  Express your creativity!!
Basil

Basil

Herbs to grow or keep on hand in your refrigerator at all times are BASIL, PARSLEY, THYME, OREGANO, ROSEMARY, AND CHIVES.

Herbs that I grow, but use less often are CATNIP, FENNEL, DILL, CILANTRO, MARJORAM, MINT, SAGE, TARRAGON, and BORAGE. (I will go into depth on these herbs in a later post).

I am going to simplify as much as possible my favorite uses, but as I mentioned before, the sky is the limit!  Get creative and try what you think will be great.  No big deal if it doesn’t work.  You will know not to use them in that way again.  Have fun!

BASIL

I like to keep BASIL PESTO in my refrigerator at all times.  I make and drain pasta, then put the pasta, a little oil, anchovies, big dollops of pesto, and a minimal amount of red pepper flakes into a large skillet and warm through.  This is a winner in my family, especially topped with venison or organic beef or chicken.  Any meal,soup, salad, or sauce that I use tomatoes, I automatically think “basil”.  I top many sandwiches and pizzas with basil.

PARSLEY

I love to use parsley as a garnish to almost any dish.  My favorite uses are as a garnish over heavy sauces, meats, and fish.  I cook parsley in stews and soups being careful to add them toward the end of the cooking time to retain as much flavor as I can.  I also love to add it to most of my salads (it is my secret ingredient)!

Parsley in Planter

Parsley in Planter

THYME

Actually thyme is great in your favorite tea mix. It tastes great and especially helpful when I have a headache!  I love to pair it with rich meats such as duck, goose, and sometimes venison.  I usually will use other herbs with thyme consisting of oregano, rosemary, parsley, and sage.  Thyme is a must in a Bouquet garni. (This is a group of herbs tied together to add flavor to a stew or broth.  I like to use it when making chicken broth. One of my favorite applications is in my pizza sauce and in my favorite bread recipes. It adds tons of flavor.

OREGANO

Obviously, I use oregano in my pizza sauces.  One of my favorite ways to use oregano is over my roasted vegetables. I sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano!  A meal in itself. Yummy!!

ROSEMARY

Rosemary, being so earthy in flavor, is the perfect pair with venison.  It is so extremely easy to grow.  I use it as foundation plants around my house. When I walk outside in the early morning, I am greeted with the scent of sweet pine.  It is incredibly earthy.  I use this with most of my wild game , lamb, and chicken and egg dishes. One of my easy, favorite dishes using rosemary consists of placing 2 eggs in a ramekin dish, sprinkling it with fresh rosemary and baking in the oven.  It is also excellent in my Crusty Bread recipe.

CHIVES

I always use chives chopped over my soups and salads.  It is especially great in my pureéd soups such as Vichyssoise (a chilled potato leek soup).  I also love thee with omelets, salads, fish, and vegetable dishes.

 If you cook with fresh herbs(FRESH IS BEST), add them at the end of cooking since they will lose their flavor if heated for too long.  There are exceptions to this rule, such as broiling fish or roasting vegetables.  The key to healthy herbs is to keep them moist.  If you live in a dry climate mist your herbs often.  Herbs also love to be harvested often for optimal health and productivity of the plant.  Don’t forget to dry or freeze your herbs!  Enjoy a fantastic culinary experience!

9 responses to “Using Fresh Herbs and Pairing them with Foods”

  1. […] roast, roast, roast. It doesn’t have to be the same way each time. Experimenting with various herbs, spices, flavored olive oils, and balsamic vinegar are a great way to change-up the flavor profile […]

  2. Janet Garman says:

    Just stumbled on this post while looking for different uses for the herbs I grew. thank you. This was very helpful

  3. Susan Rainey says:

    Crazy about your posts, recipes & fresh ideas! My boyfriend has a restaurant in Mgm and we love to cook, enjoy fresh food and wild game! Can’t wait to add parsley to our salads! Yum! Thank you!!

  4. Melody C. says:

    Do you use your oregano fresh or dried? I’ve heard that fresh oregano can be a bit too powerful for some dishes.

    • stacy says:

      Many people use it dried – it is really easy to dry. I do both, but I really like it fresh. I just use less of it, Melody. I love the flavor!

  5. […] with the group all things herbs…how to grow them, how to preserve them, how to use them, and what herbs are best with what foods. I enjoyed making lifetime friends with this group! Everyone made an herb pot to keep on their […]

  6. […] maintain the health of livestock with herbs, companion planting (which I think is super important), cooking with herbs, and so much […]

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