Herbs: An Easy and Inexpensive Way to Add Flavor

Herbs: An Easy and Inexpensive Way to Add Flavor

When you are trying to stretch your grocery budget, adding herbs is the perfect way to elevate “okay” to “outstanding”, without spending a lot of money.

Fresh herbs are in season right now and with these flavor-packed bundles a little goes a long way.

I’ll give you examples of some of our favorite recipes, but first some herbal basics.

Washing and Storing Herbs

Wash fresh herbs with clean water and then spin dry, using a salad spinner.

Some herbs are more tender by nature than others. Dill is a good example. The feathery fronds, which give it amazing flavor, are also quite delicate. Bear this in mind when cleaning the herbs and apply a light hand and a slow spin to herbs which bruise more easily.

Remove the herbs and place them in a lightly dampened paper towel. Wrap loosely in the paper towel, folding over the top and bottom to create and herb packet.

Place the packet into a plastic bag and loosely seal, leaving at least an inch unsealed to allow to some air flow to the herbs.

Replace the paper towel with a fresh one when dried out.

Herbs will keep fresh using this method for about two weeks.

For long-term storage, you may also freeze or dehydrate herbs.

Using herbs

In general when substituting fresh for dried in recipes, you need to add 1 Tablespoon of fresh for 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

Cooking herbs will dull their otherwise brilliant hues. Adding fresh herbs at the end of cooking time will retain the color and provide a burst of flavor as well.

This post is sponsored by Garden Spot Vegetable Farm. Located in Princeville, Illinois, owner, Jim Buckley and his family, cultivate 34 acres of vegetables and 375 fruit trees. Garden Spot is a no-spray farm, offering a variety of CSA packages. Check their Facebook page for current programs and options for available produce.

Mint

Mint is good for more than chewing gum and toothpaste.

Containing vitamins A, C, and B2, it has historically been used to quell stomach aches and soothe minor burns. There are over 600 varieties of mint. Flavors vary from sweeter notes of orange, chocolate, and pineapple to savory ones like basil, ginger, and licorice.

It is incredibly easy to propagate. Harvest a few stems with the roots in tact. Then, simply plant them where you don’t mind if it spreads. Mint will take over any given area, spreading via roots, called rhizomes, sending up new baby plants every few feet.

Recipes Featuring Mint

Quinoa cakes with Cherry tomato, mint, and chickpea relish

Fresh Mint Dressing

Quick and Easy Fresh Mint Tea

Minty Sugar Snap Peas

Parsley

You should actually not be ignoring that parsley on your plate. It’s more than a garnish.

Parsley could lower your blood pressure, reduce free radicals, keep your bones strong, and protect your eyes. That dark green color means that parsley is rich in vitamin K as well as A and C.

Found in flat leaf and curly leaf, both varieties add flavor and color to many recipes.

Recipes Featuring Parsley

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Walnut Parsley Pesto

Classic Italian Gremolata

Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion, and Herbs

Creamy Asparagus Ends Soup

Cilantro

People seems to either love or loathe cilantro. Finding the ultra-strong, parsley-like taste overwhelming could be part of the problem. However, a small percentage of the population have tastebuds which actually perceive the aldehydes in cilantro as a soapy flavor.

However, sometimes it’s a matter of “if at first you don’t succeed, try try gain.” Expand your gastronomical boundaries, by adding this herb raw to a salsa or cooked in a soup. Often, after a number of exposures and applications, you’ll find that cilantro has become a new favorite.

Recipes Featuring Cilantro

Fresh Peach Salsa

5 Ingredient Cilantro Vinaigrette

Pico de Gallo

Cilantro-Flecked Corn Fritters with Chile-Mint Sauce

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Dill

If you’ve never tried fresh dill, you are in for a treat! Dill is good for more than pickles.The tender fronds taste absolutely amazing in soups, salads, and dips!

Fresh dill is incredibly tender, lasting just a few days in the fridge or upright in a glass of water on the counter. If you dehydrate it, much of the flavor will be lost. However, freezing dill is very effective and easy.

Recipes Featuring Dill

Roasted Broccoli Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad

4 Ingredient Dill Garlic Sauce

Radish and Cucumber salad

Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Dill

Basil

A member of the mint family, basil is incredibly popular for use in a wide variety of recipes. A staple in Mediterranean cooking, the distinctive flavor is responsible for popularity of everything from pizza to pesto to pasta.

Basil does not freeze well, turning an unattractive brown color. However, dehydrating allows for longer storage. When the components are extracted, the resulting essential oil is used as an insect repellant, for digestive disorders, and to soothe muscle aches and decrease congestion.

Recipes Featuring Basil

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Spaghetti squash lasagna

Basil and Heirloom Tomato Toss

Caprese Salad Kabbobs

Pesto

(Note: Leftover pesto can be frozen. Simply fill 5 oz. yogurt containers 3/4 of the way full with pesto. Freeze until firm. Pop out the frozen pesto cubes and place them in a freezer bag. Label the bag with contents and date. Freeze for up to 6 months.)

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