Cooking Techniques

Cooking with Herbs
Kitchen Notes

It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago, herbs were widely thought of as a garnish for the plate, not something to eat. Nowadays, they are incorporated in a wide range of dishes from salads to ice cream, and quite rightly.  I use them liberally all summer long. I love how they brighten almost any dish. They are aromatic, colorful and flavorful at the same time.

Basic Ingredients

The most commonly used herbs are basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, chives, chervil, tarragon, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender and bay. It’s a long list. Keep your favorites readily on hand. Herbs are easy to grow in the garden or in pots. The Farm Stand has herbs on offer all season long. Stand a bunch of herbs in a vase on your kitchen counter like you would a bouquet of flowers. It’s pretty and it will remind you to use them! Most herbs will keep for up to a week this way, just change the water every day as you would for flowers.

Easy Steps

It’s important to handle herbs gently so they don’t wilt or bruise, sacrificing both looks and flavor. Always air-dry your herbs. Case in point- the way that basil leaves quickly blacken when they are wet and patted dry. You want to use a rocking motion when you are chopping herbs so that you cut them rather than mash them. As a general rule, I say steer clear of using a food processor to chop herbs because it usually yields a mushy, brownish-green mess. However, if you are chopping herbs with other ingredients, say with garlic and pine nuts for pesto, the food processor does a reasonable job. If the herbs and cutting board are dry and the knife is sharp, chopped herbs will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

Bay, rosemary, oregano and thyme are herbs that need cooking time to mellow. The rest are at their best showered on a dish when it’s just finished. Heat destroys their flavor.

Tasty Combinations
  • Garlic and Parsley
  • Basil and Parsley
  • Bay leaf, parsley and thyme (bouquet garni)
  • Chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon (fines herbes)
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