By Julia Howard
At the farmers’ market, fragrant herb bouquets and pots spilling with over with leafy herb plants offer market-goers an abundance of culinary exploration. While common herbs do compliment specific foods, there are no rules for what to use them in. Fresh herbs may be mixed and matched to your liking.
Common herbs can be put into two categories: woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage, and soft herbs such as basil, parsley, and cilantro. Woody herbs can be added earlier in the cooking process while soft herbs are commonly added towards the end of the cooking process or as a garnish.
Herbs can be easily stored upright in a jar of water or between a damp paper towel in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Here are just some of the common herbs available on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the farmers’ market.
Basil is recognized by its glossy, pointed leaves and sweet-savory flavor. Basil pairs well with tomatoes, strawberries, mozzarella, beef, and shrimp.
Cilantro is a delicate citrusy herb most commonly used fresh at the end of cooking. Cilantro is popular in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican cuisines.
Mint has a subtly sweet and peppery flavor, and it is used for a variety of culinary and medicinal purposes. Its powerful flavor compliments lamb, feta, mojitos, and even chocolate.
Dill is a delicate and feathery herb with slender stems. Dill pairs with salmon, cucumber, and potatoes, and is commonly used in pickling mixtures, dressings, and egg dishes.
Chives have a subtly oniony flavor with hints of garlic. Recognizable by its grass-like leaves and vibrant green color, chives make the perfect garnish for dishes with eggs or potatoes.
Thyme has small, pale green leaves and pungent aroma that pairs well with hearty meat like pork and chicken. Thyme holds up well to heat and can be used during the cooking process.
Parsley is a mild bitter herb that many use as a garnish for food, but it helps dishes like stews achieve a more balanced flavor. As an added benefit, parsley can aid in digestion.
Oregano is a sweet, slightly peppery member of the mint family. This herb is commonly used in dishes like tomato sauce, yogurt sauce, and kebabs, and is a staple in Italian and Greek cuisine.
Rosemary has been prized for its sturdy, aromatic sprigs and oil for centuries. Its needle-like leaves can be used for roasted vegetables, goat cheese, and even flavorful bundt cakes.
Sage is known for its fuzzy leaves and savory flavor with a peppery bite. Fresh sage leaves are commonly used in sausage and gnocchi. Sage can be cooked or fried as a garnish for squash.
This week’s recipe: Green Herb Yogurt Dip