Comparing Herbs

Anise Hyssop:

  • Background Information: Herbal remedy dating back to biblical times
  • Flavors: slightly minty licorice flavors
  • Uses: used the edible leaves and flowers to add flavor and color to summer soups and salads
  • Pairs well with: summer berries, melons, and honey

Basil:

  • Background Information: More than 100 varieties; Common culinary herb that’s best in summer; Used as a medicinal herb in parts of Asia
  • Location: Staple in Italian cuisine
  • Flavors: Offers a range of distinctive flavors and aromas from lemon and mint to licorice
  • Pairs well with: Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes, past, eggs, garlic, and poached fish

Borage:

  • Background Information: Also known as starflower
  • Location: Native to the Mediterranean
  • Health Benefits: Borage seed oil in certain doses may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and encourage growth and neurodevelopment in preterm infants
  • Nutrition: Full of vitamins A and C
  • Uses: Leaves are commonly eaten in salads and soups

Chervil:

  • Background Information: Delicate and attractive
  • Location: Common in France and Germany
  • Health Benefits: Contains bioflavonoids which may offer digestive benefits and promote vitamin C absorption
  • Uses: Should be used fresh, never cooked
  • Pairs well with: asparagus, carrots, peas, creamy soups, salads, eggs, fish; Enjoy bundled with chives, parsley, and tarragon

Chives:

  • Location: Native to Europe, Asia, and North America
  • Uses: Use fresh, not cooked, to maintain vibrant color and flavor 
  • Flavor: delicate way to introduce the onion flavor
  • Pairs well with: eggs, cheddar, ricotta, root vegetables especially potatoes

Cilantro:

  • Background Information: commonly refers to the leaves of the coriander plant
  • Location: Common in Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisine
  • Nutrition: has vitamin A
  • Flavor: imparts a unique lemony, floral flavor that people either love or hate
  • Pairs well with: chili peppers in salsas and curries

Dill:

  • Location: native to the Mediterranean and southern Russia
  • Nutrition: delivers a sizable dose of beta-carotene
  • Flavor: sweet-sour taste
  • Uses:  key ingredient in pickles
  • Pairs well with: cucumbers, eggs, potatoes, and fish

Lovage: 

  • Location: native to the Mediterranean
  • Health Benefits: diuretic
  • Flavor: aromatic, celery-like flavor
  • Uses: salads, soups, vinegars
  • Pairs well with: fish, corn, tomatoes

Marjoram: 

  • Background Information: closely related to oregano
  • Location: native to the Mediterranean
  • Health Benefits: diuretic, mild antiseptic
  • Flavor: sweet and spicy flavor
  • Pairs well with: tomato-based soups and stews, salads, egg dishes, fish, and chicken

Mint: 

  • Background Information: versatile
  • Location: popular in Mediterranean, Moroccan, and Middle Eastern cuisine
  • Flavor: sweet, cooling effect on the palate, intensity varies from mild apple mint and spearmint to strong peppermint  
  • Pairs well with: dark chocolate, cream-based desserts, lamb, cucumbers, young potatoes, carrots, peas, fruit, teas

Parsley: 

  • Location: native to the Sardinia, staple in Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine
  • Nutrition: 1 tablespoon delivers more than 50% of RDA for vitamin K
  • Uses: fish, soups, complements most herbs making it ideal for blending
  • Pairs well with: garlic, lemon

Rosemary: 

  • Background Information: available year-round
  • Location: native to the Mediterranean
  • Flavor: milder flavor in the winter
  • Uses: add early in the cooking process
  • Pairs well with: garlic, olive oil, fava beans, white beans, roasted meats and potatoes

Sage: 

  • Background Information: velvety herb
  • Location: native to the Mediterranean
  • Health Benefits: may enhance cognitive function for those with mild Alzheimer’s disease
  • Uses: tastes best cooked; bundle with marjoram and thyme or parsley and rosemary for a classic herb combination
  • Pairs well with: rich and roasted poultry and meat dishes, onions, pasta, and beans

Savory: 

  • Background Information: classified as either summer or winter
  • Location: commonly used in Mediterranean
  • Flavor: winter has a stronger flavor than the summer variety
  • Uses: good substitute for thyme
  • Pairs well with: complements garlic, tomatoes, and beans; winter works best with hardy winter root vegetables and beans; summer pairs well with lighter, summer vegetables

Sorrel: 

  • Background Information: spinach-like, soft herb
  • Location: common in French cuisine
  • Nutrition: plentiful oxalic acid, vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium
  • Flavor: tart, lemony flavor
  • Uses: best used fresh at the end of cooking
  • Pairs well with: goes best with creamy soups and stocks, eggs, fish, and seafood

Tarragon: 

  • Location: native to the Northern Europe and Russia, popular in French cuisine
  • Flavor: sweet, licorice-like flavor
  • Uses: key ingredient in bearnaise sauce, can be used in green salads
  • Pairs well with: eggs, fish, chicken, goat and ricotta cheeses, and acidic flavors such as citrus, tomatoes, vinegar, and parsley

Thyme: 

  • Background Information: available year-round
  • Location: origins in the Mediterranean
  • Nutrition: has generous amounts of vitamin C
  • Flavor: milder flavor in the winter
  • Uses: adds depth to soups and stews
  • Pairs well with: meats, roasted chicken, fish, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and winter vegetables

Reference: 

Moore, Marisa. “Perfect pick.” Food & Nutrition. July/August 2015. 22-23.

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