Herbs for Cooking

Herbs for cooking, whether they’re dried or fresh, add so much flavor to your dishes that we thought it was time for our fave top 10 list.

No question these herbs made the cut: Oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, bay leaf, parsley [flat leaf and curly], dill, marjoram, and tarragon.

Oregano

This herb is wonderful fresh or dried and adds a boost to pasta sauces and cold salads. One of our favorite ways to use oregano is in potato salad. And don’t forget sprinkling some on top of a warm vegetable dish.

Rosemary

This herb, when fresh, can be very strong so be careful how much you use. It enhances lasagna and spices up fresh made biscuits. It’s also very easy to grow and, in warm climates, turns into huge fragrant hedges.

Basil

This is probably the most popular herb in the garden especially for first-time gardeners. It’s easy to grow and difficult to kill. It comes in a variety of flavors in including sweet, Genovese (or lettuce leaf), chocolate and lemon. It’s the star in pesto sauce and is the base for a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad drizzled with basil oil.

Sage

This is another herb that, when left to its own devices, can grow bush like in warmer climates. Sage goes well in white sauces and creates a wonderful flavor profile when used in a sage brown butter sauce paired with poultry. It also works well in Thanksgiving stuffing.

Thyme

Part of the old Simon and Garfunkel tune, this herb also comes in a variety of flavors. Our favorite is lemon thyme because, when cooked, it brings a hint of citrus to the table in addition to its own wonderful taste.

Bay Leaf

These delightful additions to soups and stews actually grow on trees. Sweet bay trees are common in states like California with a temperate climate. Their peppery smell and taste add a deep note to dishes like potato soup and chicken pot pie.

Parsley

The Italian flat leaf version of this herb is probably the most popular form. It’s used as a garnish on dishes as well as an addition to sauces. It can also be used for pesto in place of basil. Curly parsley is rough and best used as a garnish.

Dill

We love the freshness of this herb and, while it’s fine dried, it’s better fresh. You can use it in apple walnut tuna, atop salmon or enjoy it with Havarti cheese.

Marjoram

A kissing cousin of oregano, marjoram is a wonderful addition to a dry rub for roast chicken, in beef stew and in a stir fry marinade.

Tarragon

Most popular in France, tarragon emits a light, licorice-like flavor and is a favorite addition to white wine vinegars. Besides that, tarragon is the star ingredient in a béarnaise sauce. Because heat takes away its flavor, add it at the end.

Herbs, both fresh and dried, can elevate flavor profiles and enhance dishes to a place of pure elegance. Next time you are creating your signature dish, make sure to reach for fresh or dried herbs.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

Which is your favorite of these herbs for cooking?