Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Herb of the week Cooking with Herbs

I posted a resolution about sharing more recipes in 2017, but I thought I should make it easier for others to use herbal recipes.  Adding herbs to dishes provide a big punch of flavor to your food. But more than just flavor enhancers, herbs were pre-pharmaceutical medicine: They provide some serious health benefits.
So today’s Herb of the Week are the seven herbs you should keep on hand

Try them yourself and see if they don’t give your dishes some serious flavor:
   1.   Sage.  This vibrant grey-green herb provides a unique earthy flavor that’s simultaneously sweet and bitter.  Sage pairs perfectly with pork, legumes, and poultry.  Try cooking a boneless chicken breast in parchment paper with a few sage leaves, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Talk about warm, succulent flavor!  Sage helps lower blood sugar, prevent excessive perspiration, and provides antimicrobial properties (inhibits disease-causing microorganisms).
2.   Tarragon.  A sweet herb with slightly peppery flavor and hints of licorice, antioxidant-rich tarragon helps reduce free radical damage.  You often find it in French cuisine like omelets, fish and chicken.   Tarragon doesn’t play well with other herbs, so avoid combining with other strong herbs like rosemary, basil, and oregano.

3.   Thyme.  This delicate herb has many different varieties, such as, lemon, orange, and the classic French thyme.  Each adds its own distinct flavor. While it pairs well with any meat or fish, thyme seems destined for roasted chicken and tomatoes.  Research suggests antioxidant-rich thyme helps improve brain function. Don’t know about you, but I could use that boost!
   4.   Basil.  If you’ve dined at an Italian restaurant, you’ve probably tried basil. Think pesto, pasta, and caprese salad.  Basil is actually native to Asia, India, and Africa, so try adding it to some of your other ethnic dishes like curry.   Basil works as a sedative and helps sooth digestive issues as well as headaches.

5.   Rosemary. This hearty, pungent herb is fast friends with grilled meat and roasted fish, but also works well with lamb.  Rosemary’s flavor becomes milder in winter, so you may need to add more to winter stews.  Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties make rosemary a good choice for people with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  Among its other benefits, rosemary aids in digestion, improves blood flow to the brain, and stimulates your immune system. Talk about a workhorse herb!
6.   Dill.  A relative of carrot and celery, this wispy herb traditionally helped treat gut issues. Dill aids in digestion, combats gas, and detoxifies the liver.  I can’t imagine salmon or crab cakes without a good hit of dill:  It brightens up seafood like no other herb.  Try baking salmon in parchment paper with some dill, lemon, and capers. See what I mean?
   7.   Marjoram.  An under-utilized herb related to oregano that provides a milder, sweet, spicy flavor.  Use it wherever you’d use oregano for a new spin on old favorites like marinara sauce or grilled chicken and lemon.  Besides being anti-microbial, both oregano and marjoram contain more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables.

Remember dried herbs are more concentrated. If you’re subbing fresh, you’ll usually need to double or triple the amount. One teaspoon of dried rosemary would be two to three teaspoons of fresh rosemary.
One more tip: Tender herbs like, thyme, and dill should be added toward the end of cooking. Heartier herbs like rosemary can be added earlier in the cooking process.
If you need to restock your Herb Cabinet this season, check out our loose herbs here.

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