Herbs in Food for Health and Taste
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Today we like to try to eat a more healthy and balanced diet but sometimes the healthy food we are indulging in seems bland, tasteless and even boring. Besides onions and garlic, which are also very good for the body, what else can be used to put life into a dull meal? For me herbs can add that spark. I prefer them straight from my organic garden, but most grocery stores carry fresh herbs and they can make a difference in the taste and the presentation of a meal.
Here is a simple chart of eight common herbs, the foods they work best with and other herbs they complement.
Basil partners with almost every summer vegetable and fruit. Stew it with tomatoes and zucchini, finely chop it and add it to potatoes and salads, steam it with fish, and add it to a marinade when you grill chicken.
Chives, lemon verbena, rosemary, mint and oregano complement basil.
I use fresh dill in salads, scrambled eggs and omelets, on cucumber and tomato slices, sprinkled on steamed asparagus, mixed with cooked beets, carrots and beans. It's also great when mixed with butter or margarine then spread on steamed corn on the cob.
The taste of dill is best complemented when used with lemon balm, lemon thyme and chives.
I have found that fresh marjoram is wonderful when used on poultry, fish and shellfish. I also use it on summer squash, eggplant, spinach, beets, beans and carrots.
Fresh marjoram works well with fresh chives, mint, rosemary and sage.
I can't think of many foods that mint does not complement. Lamb is obvious, but it also livens up the taste of fish and poultry, too. I like it best with ginger milk, peas, and zucchini. And on a cold winter day, a cup of hot cocoa with a sprig of mint is just what you need to ward away the chill. It is also great in fruit salsa.
I have found that mint combines well with every fresh herb.
Dice oregano and sprinkle it on grilled eggplant, peppers, summer squash and zucchini. The flavor is wonderful. Oregano also enhances fish, especially the oily varieties like bluefish. Oregano combines best with chives, sage and thyme.
Rosemary is wonderful on a fish, poultry and potatoes but many people would never think of adding it to fruit. Try baking an apple with teaspoon of honey and a sprig of rosemary (yummy) or diced and sprinkled on citrus fruit. This is an amazing herb. The flavor is delicate and adds so much to any average tasting food.
Rosemary combines well with almost every other herb. However if you are using a strong tasting vegetable like onion, it can barely be tasted because its flavor is more delicate.
The most common use for sage is in cornbread dressings and as a seasoning for poultry. This is a stronger herb that people either love or hate. If you haven't used fresh sage you may want to try a small amount at first to see which category you fall into. I like to use a little bit of sage with fruit. Cherries, apples, pears and even citrus fruits are all complemented with a small amount of sage. It's also wonderful on winter squash, spaghetti squash, asparagus and beans.
Rosemary, thyme, fennel and the lemon flavored herbs all nicely complement sage.
Thyme enhances the flavor of seafood and poultry, but I use it diced and sprinkled over dried fruits and apple slices. It is delicious in an omelet.
Fennel, dill, basil, lavender and rosemary are all complementary to thyme.
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