Cooking with Herbs

A few weeks ago I taught a class for a group of women from church on cooking with herbs. It was a fun class to prepare for and I learned a few new things myself.

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This week I will share with you some of the tips on cooking with herbs as well as a few quick and easy herb recipes that I shared at the class.

Growing herbs is easy – all you need is a nice sunny location. This can be a garden bed, a pot on your patio or a small pot on your kitchen window sill. I keep my herbs in a small raised bed in my vegetable garden area and a pot of basil on the patio.

The ladies at the class got a tour of my herb garden and a quick lesson in how to deadhead your basil!

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My favorite herbs to grow are: basil (lots of basil), rosemary (this comes back every year), oregano, thyme, chives, parsley (both curly and flat leaf), and cilantro.

Here are my Top Tips for cooking with herbs:

  • When substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in a recipe a general guideline is to use 3 times as much of the fresh herb as you would use of a dried herb. When substituting, you’ll often be more successful substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs, rather than the other way around.
  • Purchase herbs close to the time you plan to use them. When growing herbs in your own garden the ideal time for picking is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps ensure the best flavor and storage quality.
  • Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for a few days. Wrap woody stem herbs (thyme, rosemary) in a dry paper towel and then place in perforated plastic bag. Wrap soft stem herbs (oregano, basil) in a damp paper towel and then place in perforated plastic bag.
  • Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor. Add the more delicate herbs — basil, chives, cilantro, dill leaves, parsley, marjoram and mint — a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle them on the food before it’s served. The less delicate herbs, such as dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Obviously, for some foods, such as breads, batters, etc., you’ll need to add herbs at the beginning of the cooking process.

Coming up next – a quick and easy herb pasta. A perfect quick meal for a summer night.

What’s your favorite herb to cook with??

Comments

  1. 1
    Stephanie says:

    I have several herbs growing now but I think the only one I will use is the Basil. I just like the way it smells and looks !
    Thanks for the helpful hints however :)

  2. 2
    Melanie says:

    I’ve never commented before (waving from Mississippi), but I’m a long-time reader, and I really enjoy reading your posts.

    This is the first year I’ve ever grown a garden, and I made one raised bed for herbs. I just found some sweet basil to plant today, but I have some lemon basil my husband found. Do you have any good recipe ideas for that? And I don’t know how to deadhead basil. Is there a secret?

    Love cilantro, too, but I’ve managed to kill two of them now. I’m all open and eager to hear any herb hints you’ve got!!

  3. 3
    Leigh Anne says:

    @Melanie:

    Lemon basi sounds lovely! I’ll have to look for some here. I’ll share a couple of recipes this week that both use basil. I think you could use the lemon and sweet basil interchangeable – you will just get a slightly different flavor. One of my favorite things to make with basil is bruschetta. I have a recipe on the blog for it here – http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/tomato-time-bruschetta/
    It is so yummy – we make it all summer long during tomato season.

    I have had troubles with cilantro too – just make sure it is getting enough sun and keep the slugs away from it!
    Thanks for taking the time to comment!!

  4. 4

    Next year I plan on adding an herb garden. Now I know who to ask when I have questions! Thanks!

  5. 5
    Leslie says:

    Basil is my all time favorite to use in cooking and for its fragrance. I also love to use rosemary in breads.

  6. 6
    Lori Woodley says:

    I wish that I could have been there for the class. I love fresh herbs. I have cilantro and Basil in my garden. Do you have a herb garden or do you buy? What do herbs to you use the most?

  7. 7
    Leigh Anne says:

    @Lori Woodley:

    I grow most of my own herbs during the spring/summer – in the winter I buy them although my rosemary and thyme usually winter over. I use a lot of basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley (flat leaf), cilantro and chives.

  8. 8
    Stephanie says:

    Mint, dill and lavender! I don’t do a whole lot of cooking w/ fresh herbs (I needed your class!) but I am such a lemonade person. I have a pitcher of mint lemon-limeade in the fridge right now. I also like making garden lemonade w/ cucumber and dill, or lavender lemonade with fresh lavender.

  9. 9
    Kara says:

    Oh man, I wish I could have come to your class. I am growing basil for the first time and am totally clueless. Um, what is “deadheading” and how do you do it?

  10. 10
    Leigh Anne says:

    @Kara:

    As your basil grows and gets older it will actually get flowers – a spike with little white flowers. You want to pinch this off before it gets too big. Just be careful to not pinch off any of the new growth of the basil plant – only remove the flower part. Have fun with your basil!!

  11. 11
    Belinda says:

    I started an herb garden in addition to my vegetable garden this year. After reading all the comments sounds like a lot of us noobies are out there. Would be great if you could begin sharing some of your experience regularly.
    I live in Texas and of course the problem I’m having is the heat and blistering sun.
    PS Tried the No Knead Bread, “Awesome”.

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