Cooking herbs are the best way to spice up a normal dish, fast. You can completely change the taste of a staple meal by switching out some of the herbs you use. And besides adding extra flavor, they have amazing health benefits, too!
When choosing the best herbs for cooking to keep on hand, it’s good to have an idea of what kind of flavors go best with each one. For instance, if you aren’t a fan of pesto, you could probably skip basil. But if you do like basil, what are some creative ways to use it?
When meal planning, having your most used and favorite herbs on hand help you stay prepared during the week. And, another reason to understand a herb’s flavor profile: if you run out of one, what can you substitute in its place?
What to use it in: Sage has a unique flavor, somewhat like pine, citrus, and eucalyptus together. Sage magnifies the flavor in a recipe, and pairs well with sausages, pasta, soups, and onions.
Sage also goes well with apples, like this recipe for satueed apples with brown sugar and sage.
Why you should use it: Sage is rich in vitamin K, which helps the liver process fats. It also helps prevent gingivitis and reduce inflammation in the body.
What to use it in: Both sweet and woody, thyme is the one herb you’ll always want to keep stocked. As you’ll see below, it’s the universal substitute for most other popular herbs. It’s often used with meat and veggies, although it also tastes great in eggs and cheesy dishes. It’s popular in French and Italian recipes.
Thyme is quite yummy when mixed with citrus and honey in teas, water infusions, and even cocktails.
Why you should use it: Thyme helps fight sore throats, digestive troubles, and respiratory issues.
What to use it in: If you love Italian food, then basil is a must. Basil adds a strong but sweet flavor to sauces, pasta, pesto, and pizza. And it makes a yummy, simple tomato, basil, mozzarella salad.
But basil also tastes fantastic with seafood and Thai dishes, and or mix with strawberries in drinks or jam.
What to substitute: While it won’t give the same sweet flavor, you can substitute oregano and thyme whenever you’re out. They’re similar in flavor profile and usually used together in Italian food, anyway.
Why you should use it: Basil helps improve memory and heart health.
Why you should use it: Lavender helps reduce anxiety and stress. It also helps boost skin and hair health.
What to use it in: Oregano is another staple in Italian food, because it goes so well with pasta sauces and meat. It’s often used for meatballs and dry rubs, to add a warm, woody flavor.
Oregano is quite the universal herb: Add it to lemon chicken, your oven-roasted veggies, marinades, and more.
Why you should use it: There’s a reason pasta can be a comfort food when sick! Oregano is an immune-booster, helping to detox the body of sickness. You can even use it as a tea when feeling under the weather!
What to use it in: Rich, woody, and aromatic, rosemary adds a lot of punch. It’s fantastic with roasted meats and veggies, and pairs well with everything from marinades to sauces. Sprinkle it in stews, soups, and on top of fish and poultry for delicious flavor.
It also adds a nice twist to fruity drinks, like citrus or strawberry cocktails and punch.
Why you should use it: Rosemary helps improve memory and focus, and it’s a mood booster.
What to use it in: Popular in Greek recipes, marjoram tastes fantastic with goat cheese and sweet veggies like carrots. Use it in recipes for stews, salads, fish, and pork. It has a sweeter taste than oregano, although it’s similar.
You can even use it in fried chicken batter mix, or toss it in tangy sweet coleslaw or salad.
Why you should use it: Marjoram boosts blood circulation and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
Ready to spice up your everyday dish? Grab your herbs and spices, and get cooking!