14 common kitchen herbs to add to your cooking arsenal

Herbs add a dash of colour and flavour to food, and reduce the amount of salt needed for seasoning. They also contribute to nutritional value in the form of minerals and vitamins. Here are the most common herbs to use in your kitchen.

14 common kitchen herbs to add to your cooking arsenal

1. Parsley

No herb is more ubiquitous than parsley. It is used to season soups, stews, casseroles, salads, pasta, and potato dishes. Just toss in a sprig near the end of the cooking time, or tear up the leaves with your fingers.

2. Basil

Flavourful basil has a pungent taste that works well in sweet and spicy foods like stir-fries and spaghetti sauces. Simply tear it apart or cut it into strips to add to salads and marinades, or blend it in a food processor to make pesto.

3. Cilantro

Cilantro qualifies as one of the most widely used herbs in the world. Its strong flavour adds a boost to southwestern, Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Sprinkle the fresh leaves on a finished dish.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary has an astringent, clean scent and tastes great in Mediterranean cooking. Add the needle-like leaves to lamb, wild game, and pork, or use the stripped branches as a kind of skewer to grill meat, poultry, or fish.

5. Dill

Dill is great with fish, shellfish, vinaigrette, cucumber salad, and of course, with pickles. It tastes strongest in summer. Sprinkle on before serving.

6. Tarragon

Tarragon is native to Siberia and North America. It adds a distinctive flavour to vinegar, mustard, and béarnaise sauce, and goes well with poultry and shellfish. The herb's bittersweet and spicy aroma is lost when dried.

7. Chervil

Fresh and spicy chervil goes in salads, soups, and herb butter, as well as egg and cheese dishes.

8. Bay leaves

Bay leaves tend to be used in soups, stews, and spaghetti sauce, but their aromatic flavour is also great with fish and in many East Indian dishes like biryani. Bay leaves stimulate your appetite and also act as a preservative. You usually add the leaves whole.

9. Marjoram

Marjoram promotes digestion and goes very well with meat dishes and robust summer veggies like eggplant, tomatoes, and red and green bell peppers. It can't be frozen but, when dried, it can be added at any stage of cooking.

10. Mint

There are many different varieties of mint, but spearmint and peppermint are the most frequently used. Mint highlights the fine taste of spring vegetables, peas, green beans, and salads, and adds a fresh, elegant touch to desserts and fruit bowls.

11. Oregano

Oregano belongs to the same family as marjoram and is regularly served up on pizza and in tomato dishes. Use this light, tart herb sparingly — it's easy to go overboard.

12. Sage

Add peppery-tasting sage near the end of the cooking time for roast pork and poultry. It also goes well with tomatoes and beans.

13. Chives

Chives taste like a combination of onions and leeks. Use the herb to dress up salads, meat broths, vegetable soups, sour cream, potato salads, and mashed potatoes, as well as scrambled eggs. The younger the straws, the more tender the consistency and the more intense the taste.

14. Thyme

Use thyme in soups and stews, with vegetables, and in casseroles and fish dishes. Fresh lemon thyme goes well with fish and poultry.

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