The use of herbs in cooking has been in vogue since times immemorial. Herbs add flavor to the food and make it more nutritious as well as delicious. Both fresh herbs and dried herbs can be used for cooking. A general guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is that they should be used three times more than the dried herb. Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added towards the end in cooked dishes, to preserve their flavor. More delicate herbs like basil, chives, dill leaves, parsley, and marjoram are added a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkled on the food before it is just being served. Explore the following article to know more about the herbs that are used in cooking.
Major Culinary Herbs
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
One of the most popular culinary herbs is sweet basil, which is used in sauces, pizzas, salads and pasta dishes. It forms the main ingredient of pesto sauce. Basil can be used in either fresh or dried form. The fresh leaf has a sweet, clovelike spiciness and is excellent with tomato dishes.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander is used to enliven Mexican and South American cuisine as well as Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. It is used in tacos, salsas, soups, stews, chicken and rice, salads, tomato based sauces and garnishing. The seeds are used in Middle Eastern, Southern Asian, and Latin American cuisines.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
Cumin adds flavor to Middle Eastern and Mexican foods. Cumin seeds as well as powdered cumin can be used in cooking. It compliments any food, from breads to cheese to sausages. It works great on vegetables, fruits, beans and meat.
Celery (Apium graveolens)
Along with a great taste, celery contains lots of vitamins and minerals. Diced celery is common in various cold slaw-style salads. It contrasts well with apples and nuts. Dried celery is used for garnishing soups and tuna or chicken salad sandwiches. The seeds are added to pickle recipes, soups and other dishes.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill is available in weed as well as seed form, both fresh and dried. Dill weed works wonders in soups, omelets, seafood dishes, herring, salmon, potato salads and steamed vegetables. Dill seed is good for breads, pickling, cabbage dishes, stews, rice and cooked root vegetables. Ground seed is used to flavor butter, mayonnaise and mustard. The leaves go well with fish, cream cheese and cucumber.
Parsley plant (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley quickly adds a touch of color and texture to any recipe. It is available in both fresh and dried form. It is extremely useful in omelets, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soups, pasta, vegetable dishes, sauces, fish, poultry, veal and pork. The fresh leaves are used for garnishing.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is particularly used in Oriental cuisines. Garlic chives are a great replacement for garlic salts and powdered garlic. Finely chopped garlic is added to stir-fry recipes and egg dishes.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Spearmint is used as a summer herb, for flavoring fresh garden vegetables. It is also put in the well-known mint jelly or mint sauce that accompanies roasted lamb or mutton dishes. It pairs well with lamb, duck, chicken, pork and veal. It adds the right refreshing touch to fruits and fruit salads.
Peppermint (M. piperita)
Primarily, peppermint is used in making candies and teas. In cooking, it is used to flavor sweets and various liquors, in the form of essential oil or extract. Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are used in salads and sauces in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The aromatic flavor of rosemary blends well with garlic and thyme, to season lamb roasts, meat stews and marinades. It enlivens lighter fish and poultry dishes, along with tomato sauces and vegetables. It is also used to dress fresh steamed red potatoes and peas or a stir-fried mixture of zucchini and summer squash.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is available in fresh or dried leaves, as whole, crumbled or ground. The herb enhances pork, lamb, meats and sausages. It is used for flavoring seafood, vegetables, stuffing and savory breads. Chopped leaves flavor salads, pickles and cheese.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is closely associated with French cuisine. Both fresh and dried thyme is available. It is used in soups and sauces with meat, poultry or fish. It also goes well with lamb, veal, eggs, chowders, croquettes and tomatoes.
Other Culinary Herbs