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Use Eight Basic Cooking Herbs To Create Your Own Culinary Dishes

Eight basic cooking herbs can be used to create a variety of new dishes for you and your family. Culinary herbs are used by the most skillful gourmet chefs around the world. Everyday people can also prepare their favorite dish using different herbs. Experimenting with them is the fun part, but it is also good to know a little bit about each plant before you cook.

Each herb produces a different aroma and taste, and you'll notice the different colors and textures in the photos below. Many chefs have their favorite cooking herbs to use in specific dishes, a sprinkle of this, a dash of that.

There is no scientific way to combine certain herbs with meat, fish, or vegetables. It depends on fresh versus dried (in a jar), and its strength.

Learning about each herb may help you decide which plants to use in your favorite dishes. When using cooking herbs in any dish, fresh herbs are stronger in flavor. You will want to cut down on the amount if you have a recipe for dried herbs.


Basil

Sweet Basil

Basil is a member of the mint family. Basil had its origins in Asia and India. It is a perennial in tropical climates, but will die out in most regions. Using containers in the winter time will assure you of having basil year around.

It grows about two to three feet high and about two to three feet wide. In the summer, off-white tall flowers appear. This herb has a wonderful aroma. The most popular use of basil is in red base Italian sauce.

I make a tomato base sauce using fresh basil, oregano, thyme, chives and fresh garlic. For a refreshing vegetable slice a tomato and put out on grill with some aluminum foil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a few sprigs of basil. It creates a great dinner time vegetable.

Oregano

Sweet Basil

Oregano is another member of the mint family, and one of the most common cooking herbs. It is a perennial and has a strong flavor. Beautiful stalks of purple flowers appear in the summer time. It will also self seed. It started growing in Mediterranean Europe and now grows in a variety of climates worldwide.

This is an upright plant and grows up to three feet. This culinary herb is wonderful in any type of red sauce. and with chicken dishes. Butterfly a chicken breast, baste with butter and wrap a few chopped up leaves of oregano inside. Awesome flavor!

Great to use in creating your own unique omelet. Makes a great topping for squash, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower by caramelizing oregano, basil, chives, and fresh garlic. A family member is Marjoram. Marjoram has a milder flavor and is not as hardy as oregano.

Rosemary

Sweet Basil

Rosemary is yet another member of the mint family. It is an evergreen herb in warmer climates, but will do well in containers in colder regions. Rosemary is an older herb that has been around for centuries.

There are different varieties and will grow anywhere from two to three feet high and up to five to eight feet wide.

One of the most popular dishes is putting rosemary on top of a pork roast. Also try it on beef roast, or beef stew. This is a strong flavor culinary herb.

Parsley

Sweet Basil

Parsley is a cooking herb often used as a garnish. It's usually an annual plant in colder climates. It also is biannual, meaning leaves the first year and flowers appearing the second year. Parsley grows in a mound and is can grow six to twelve inches tall.

This herb is great in gardens and also containers. No one is quite sure where it originated from. Some believe it was first seen in Greece.

Parsley is well known to garnish vegetable, meats, and soups. Two very popular types are Curled Leaf and Italian. It is known to have a peppery taste, so don't put a lot on a dish. I will also put parsley in potato or macaroni salads.

Chives

Sweet Basil

Chives are the smallest member of the onion family. The most popular place it grows is in the northern state of New Hampshire. In northern climates purple flowers appear in the summer months.

Chives grow in clumps and will mature one to two feet tall. They are one of the first herbs to peep through the ground in warmer regions. Chives are perennial and great in gardens or containers.

We like garlic chives, as they produce a mild garlic flavor. Both regular garlic and garlic chives are great culinary herbs to go on top of a baked potato, Italian dishes, and along side Rosemary in pork and beef roast. It's also nice flavoring in scrambled eggs.

The garlic chive produces a striking white flower. Dead head the flower after blooming, to ensure the plant to continue its growing pattern.

Dill

Sweet Basil

Dill is an annual in most climates of the world. It was first seen in the Mediterranean. Dill can grow up to three feet tall. It can get leggy so it is a good idea to stake each of your plants. This is a very popular herb to cook with.

Leaves from fresh herbs can create wonderful vinegars. Find out how to incorporate dill and fresh lemon to make a wonderful herb vinegar.

For a nice fish dish, take a piece of aluminum foil and fold all four edges up. Pour a small amount of lemon and dill vinegar on the bottom of the foil.

Top your fish off with a little more vinegar, fresh sprigs of dill, and a few sesame seeds. Wrap the fish and grill. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillet.

Add a few sprigs of dill to asparagus along with a slice of lemon and a clove of caramelized garlic. One of my favorite herbs to experiment with.

Thyme

Sweet Basil

Thyme is a perennial herb, but sensitive to heavy frost and cold temperatures. Protect in the winter time with mulch or pine straw. It was used many years ago by the Greek population and today thyme is a very popular herb. There are hundreds of different kinds of thyme.

Two of the most popular are Mother of Thyme and Common Thyme. It's good herb for a garden but needs watering in the heat of the summer. Great plant for a container in the kitchen. A small culinary herb, barely reaching a foot tall.

Thyme is wonderful for many different dishes. Add a small amount of the leaves into your favorite meat loaf. Sprinkle a few sprigs on the top of peas or carrots. It's in white or red sauces, and a nice flavor with your favorite barbecue sauce. Yes, you can open a bottle of your favorite store brand, and just add a little thyme, and it will jazz up the sauce.

Sage

Sweet Basil

Sage is one of those cooking herbs with many varieties to choose from. Golden (Clary) sage is a variegated color and looks stunning in any garden. It will also do well in a container.

The garden sage is a hardy perennial and grows one to two feet tall, with beautiful purple flowers appearing in early summer.

The Clary sage is the tallest and will reach up to five feet tall. Sage is used in a lot of European dishes. One of my favorite dishes is bread stuffing using the fresh leaves. Take two loaves of bread and break it up into tiny pieces.

Add onion, celery, and a little fresh garlic. Cut up a few leaves of sage and mix it all together. Add water to moisten the dressing, or add a box of organic chicken broth for flavoring. Sage is also wonderful over eggs, vegetables and poultry. It's another strong herb, so use just a little.


There are hundreds of different herb species, many with culinary value besides these basic eight. Some have great medicinal value. Others can be used in flower arrangements and herb vinegars.

Herbee and I had a green house for a few years. We experimented with many different herbs, vegetables, flowers, and shrubs. At one time there were over 5,000 plants. This was a wonderful time to learn the secrets of growing your own herbs, watch them turn into plugs, and then delightful plants.

Herbs play a big role in my family's life. We cook and enjoy their flavor, and smell the different aromas throughout the house and garden.

This is something you can do, too! Take the easy steps and grow your own herbs. Enjoy their beauty in the garden, and cooking with them. Cooking with herbs can really add to the flavor of so many foods we eat every day.

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