I answer this question so often at Sharyn’s Pantry. We have a whole room filled with wonderful, fragrant dried herbs and spices. 200 to be exact! Learning what herb goes well with meat, poultry or vegetables takes a lifetime of experience.
I don’t know how many telephone calls I made to my Mum after getting married. What do I do or how can I improve the flavour? HELP!! There was no internet in those days and I probably called my Mum daily to ask her advice. But I learned following her advice and experience. I hope to-day’s column will give you some information on what HERBS to use with what.
SWEET BASIL: A herb, a member of the mint family. It has a warm, sweet flavour that pairs very well with oregano. I call them “the Bobsey Twins”. Add basil into tomato sauces, lamb, fish, eggs, tossed salad, on fresh tomatoes, duck, cheese, potatoes, peas and squash. It comes in dried rubbed leaves or ground.
BAY LEAVES: I bought a bay leaf plant about 5 years ago from our local greenhouse. It is thriving in a flower pot in my kitchen window. You can’t leave a bay leaf plant in your garden over the winter, it will not survive the cold. Bay leaves have a pungent flavour. They repel insects if placed in with dried grains. Add them to soups, sauces and stews. Their sharp edges can lacerate your oesophagus. Always remove them from your sauce before serving.
CHERVIL: Is a French herb having a mild delicate flavour. It is so nice added to soups, egg and cheese dishes, chicken, green salads, peas and spinach. It grows easily in your garden.
CILANTRO: Is a herb, the leaves of the coriander plant. It is the most commonly used herb in the whole world. Use it in Mexican cooking, East Indian dishes and Caribbean dishes. Always the herb to make salsa taste like salsa.
DILL SEEDS AND DILL WEED: This is a herb with a sweet but pungent flavour. Delightful paired with fish dishes, in sour cream, on beans, carrots, potato salad and new potatoes. Once planted in your herb garden, it will come up every year.
MARJORAM: Is a herb. It will grow easily in your garden coming up each year. It is a member of the mint family.It imparts a very pleasant flavour in vegetable soups, fish chowders, eggs, cheese dishes, stews, roasts of beef, lamb or pork and roast chicken and stuffings.
OREGANO: Is a herb and a member of the mint family. It has a very strong aromatic scent and pairs very well with basil. Use it in spaghetti sauces, pizzas, chili, pork and veal dishes. It also will come up each year in your herb garden.
MINT: Be careful if you plant this herb in your garden. It well take over the whole garden. Plant it in a pail so that the roots will not spread. You can make a refreshing tea with the leaves. Add it into jellies, fruit juices, frosting, candy, on lamb, potatoes, peas and in chocolate desserts. You can have spearmint or peppermint.
PARSLEY: A herb, with a pleasant, mild slightly tangy flavour. Very good with meats, fish, vegetables, soups, eggs and cheese dishes. It is also used as a popular garnish to brighten up any dish when served.
ROSEMARY: This is a very aromatic herb. It’s leaves resemble pine needles. It is used often in chicken dishes, stuffing, veal, lamb, fish, duck, potatoes and cauliflower. Use it sparingly as it has a very strong flavour. Just laying sprigs of it on top of a roasting chicken will impart a lovely flavour.
SAGE: This is another herb which will grow year after year in your garden. Also a member of the mint family. It is aromatic with a slightly bitter flavour. Use it sparingly. Good added to stuffings, on pork roasts, poultry and in sausages.
SAVORY: You can have summer savory which we sell from a local grower. It is the most popular type. Use it in stuffings, meat pies, soups, in mashed potatoes and all poultry dishes. The winter savory is less popular coming ground or leafy. We sell both kinds. It has a different flavour compared to summer savory.
TARRAGON: This is one of my favourite herbs. It will grow in your garden for years. My own tarragon plant in my herb garden must be nearly 30 years old. It is a French herb with a lovely licorice flavour. It goes perfectly with salmon, egg or cheese dishes. It is used to flavour vinegars, on tomatoes or in sauces for meats or vegetables.
THYME: Is a very popular herb. It is a member of the mint family. It has a warm, aromatic, pungent flavour. Use it in soups, stuffings, on poultry, in cheese dishes, bean dishes, on beef, lamb, pork, fish and oysters.
SHARYN THOMPSON, Owner of SHARYN’S PANTRY – a family-run business for 35 years. 812 Pitt St, Unit 6, Cornwall, Ont 613-936-1998 OPEN: Monday to Saturday – 9 to 5