Using herbs throughout the summer can be fun and easy! Herbs, the leaves and stalks of aromatic plants, can be used in many different dishes to give new flavours that the whole family will love!
Here are some tips on how to use fresh herbs!
- Remove the stems of fresh herbs, measure them out, and then dice them with a sharp knife to desired size. If I am in a rush I will just tear them into small pieces and add them to my soups and salads.
- Having beans or rice for a meal? Try using these complimentary herbs: garlic, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, and even mint (Murray, 465).
- Keep a recipe book where you write out what fresh herbs you’ve used in what recipe. Often I make a delicious meal and then forget what herbs I used!
- Harvest and cut herbs just before you use them as the longer they are left out on the counter or left in the fridge, the more flavour they will lose.
Did you know that there are more than 60 different varieties of basil available?! The most common is sweet basil, and I grow this in my herb boxes in my yard. Sweet basil can be used in pestos, soups, salads (try adding it to a tomato and cucumber salad) and pasta dishes. Make your own pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a variety of herbs and spices, including fresh basil and oregano. Basil is great for the digestive system, making it a great addition to heavier meals, like pasta! Or, try out Spinach Pesto, a delicious spread that is used in our Pear Pesto Pizza recipe. When buying basil, purchase crisp leaves that are bright green in color. They can be stored in the fridge for about a week, or you can pre-wash the leaves and freeze them for a few months.
How do you use fresh basil?
Dill grows very fast, and when grown inside it can bring a lovely sweet scent to your kitchen! Like basil, dill is great for the digestive system, and it also works as a liver detoxifier. Use green, feathery leaves and store them in the refrigerator wrapped up in a damp paper towel. Dill can only be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days, so it is ideal to grow it and pick it fresh when you need it! Use dill in sauces and spreads, in soups and salads, and even add it to tuna or egg when making sandwiches. I also love dill on chicken and fish. Try our Creamy Dill Dressing and let us know what YOU think!
There are many different varieties of mint, and spearmint and peppermint make wonderful tea when the fresh leaves are used! Choose mint that is a rich green color with leaves that are not yellowing. Mint has a great effect on the intestines; it has been shown to help relieve gas. Use fresh mint in salads, smoothies and drinks. I recently went to a restaurant and had a fresh basil and mint smoothie with banana. I have been trying to re-create the recipe at home and hope to perfect it! For a soothing tea, add dried mint leaves to boiling water. Try adding fresh mint to our fruit salad (chop up the mint leaves very finely).
This herb is actually member of the mint family. When using oregano, ensure the leaves are a bright green color and not yellowing. The leaves can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel, for about a week. Use this fresh herb in pasta dishes and soups. Chop it up and add it fresh to homemade pizzas, or dice it finely and add it to scrambled eggs. Oregano is a powerful antioxidant, and it contains two antimicrobial agents, thymol and carvacrol, which can help out your immune system (Murray 501). So harvest those fresh basil leaves if you feel the sniffles coming on!
I love fresh rosemary on baked chicken! I chop up the leaves and spread them over chicken breasts along with a teaspoon of olive oil and ½ a squeezed lemon. Rosemary to me is a soothing herb, and it has been historically used to strengthen the memory (Murray 504). It also contains a chemical called rosmarinic acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation (Murray 505). It also can aid the digestive and immune system. Add it to soups and stews, or on sliced potatoes done on the bbq! Try out our Herb Pesto Mayo and use it as a spread for pitas or wraps!
Here at Bundles of Energy we want to know how you use fresh herbs! Do you grow your own? Do you use fresh herbs in the meals you prepare! Tell us how!