Today herbs are most commonly grown for use in the kitchen where they are used to add flavour or provide a garnish rather than be used as a dish in their own right. It is often argued that the British don't use herbs enough in their cooking, but the depth of flavour they can bring to even the simplest of dishes makes experimenting with them very worthwhile! The information below should help you choose the right herb for the right dish and there is a recipe section included, to give you some more ideas.
Basil has the spicy overtones of aniseed and is strongly associated with Italian food. It complements green vegetables, salads, soups, eggs, fish, cheese, lamb, pizzas and pasta sauces. Basil is especially delicious with tomatoes and any tomato based sauce.
The flavour of coriander leaf is strong, pungent and earthy, quite different from the more aromatic citrus flavour of the coriander seed. Although both are from the same plant they are not interchangeable. Coriander leaf is particularly associated with curries and Thai, Indonesian and South American dishes. It also complements chicken, fish, rice, and tomatoes and is often sprinkled over dishes as a garnish.
Dill has a fresh anise-like flavour and aroma. Leaves and seeds complement fish, chicken, minced meat, vegetables, soups, eggs and cheese. Use an alternative to parsley in omelettes and quiches.
Lemon scented, heart-shaped leaves which either dried or fresh make an excellent herbal tea. Can also be used in salad dressing.
Used in a number of Italian dishes, it goes especially well with tomatoes. Also complements lamb, chicken, veal, pork, fish, pizza, vegetables, cheese, eggs and stuffings.
Superbly refreshing flavour, useful in sauces and jellies and subtly improves the flavour of peas, beans, carrots, beetroot, potatoes and spinach. Traditionally used in the UK as a summer herb for flavouring lamb.
One of the best known culinary herbs, it is a "must" for the herb garden. Again an essential ingredient of bouquet garni, it also complements lamb, chicken, ham, casseroles, fish, vegetables, salads, eggs and cheese, soups and sauces. Ideal for more delicate dishes, as it does not overpower delicate flavours.
Has a strong pine-wood aroma and a bittersweet flavour. Complements lamb, pork, chicken, oily fish, game, vegetable soups and marinades. Its fresh camphor like aroma is a good counterbalance to rich or fatty foods, particularly lamb.
Its strong, fresh flavour makes it a popular culinary herb. Has an affinity with fatty foods and is best used with pork, duck and goose. Is also excellent with onions, fish, cheese and liver.
The strong fresh flavour of thyme blends well with other herbs without overpowering them. One of the principle ingredients of a bouquet garni, it complements chicken, lamb, beef, rabbit, turkey, vegetables, fish, cheese, eggs and soups.
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Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?