Fresh herbs have delighted the senses and tantalized the taste buds for centuries. In medieval times great bundles of herbs were strewn on castle floors as a natural air purifier. Brides often chose to wear delicate crowns of flowers interwoven with herbs upon their heads, and both Western and Eastern medical practitioners may employ herbal remedies for their patients.
Many cooks are quite passionate about utilizing herbs in their favorite recipes. Especially bountiful herbs, which perfume our summer and fall gardens with beautiful scents and enhance the plate with their wonderful array of flavors. Using fresh herbs allows cooks to cut back on unnecessary salt, fat, and sugars, while naturally elevating main ingredients.
Brimming with health benefits, each herb plays a special role in beautifying and fortifying the body. Rosemary, for example, may improve memory. Parsley is packed with apigenin, which could potentially reduce the chances of cancerous growths and tumors. Oregano, like all other herbs, has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce joint inflammation. Oregano is also particularly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and can contribute to flawless skin and glossy hair. The calcium content in basil and parsley can help maintain healthy teeth. Mint is calming and soothing and can be a digestive aid. The heady aroma of fresh herbs may help relieve any effects of nausea, as well as soothing and reviving the senses.
Basil’s affinity with tomatoes is a most engaging taste combination. Serve sun warmed tomatoes sprinkled with shards of fresh basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil. The slightly sharp bite of chives enlivens potatoes, eggs and salad dressings. Cilantro is a must for Mexican and Asian dishes. Dill adds a light, lovely layer to fish, while the snappy tang of parsley is delightful in tabouli, potato salad, and pasta. Mint is essential for tall glasses of cold ices tea or lemonade and also for embellishing summer fruit platters. Transport your taste buds by making a salad with a bounty of vegetables and a large handful of freshly minced oregano, basil, parsley, and dill. Or scent your grill with the woody stalks of rosemary. They make great skewers, infusing meat, fish, and vegetables with bright, strong flavors.
Clean herbs by soaking in a bowl of cool water, changing the water several times, or until you no longer see any dirt in the bottom of the bowl. Spin dry in a salad spinner or on layers of paper towels. For hot dishes, add herbs at the end of cooking time to avoid diluting their essence.
“An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.” – Charlemagne
“Work With What You Got!”
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