The secret to transforming easy dishes into extraordinary meals? Fresh herbs.
The ultimate focus of spring cooking is to celebrate the freshness of a new season. This is accomplished in many ways, but perhaps the most prominent is the return of fresh herbs to the plate. Herbs that sprout up in spring are a breath of fresh air that can instantly put an end to the doldrums of winter cooking.
Herbs are the easiest plants to grow. They make a great addition to any backyard or windowsill and also make meals fresher, lighter, healthier, and all around tastier. For those on a perpetual path to better cooking and eating, herbs represent a natural way to add flavor and nutrition without unnecessary calories.
To get you started on your herbaceous education, here are nine herbs to grow and cook with this spring:
The smell of fresh basil wafting through the kitchen has always refreshed the soul and restored hope for a new season after a long winter. The subtle peppery bite of basil that evolves into a slightly sweet flavor is what gives pesto its pizzazz. Learn how to make an invigorating homemade pesto with the expert guidance of Chef Ivan.
Parsley is the great all-purpose herb to have around and the absolute easiest herb to grow. To add the freshest flavor and brightest color to your meals, try it out in this vibrant and revitalizing chimichurri sauce guaranteed to garnish your plate with life.
Just a whiff of fresh mint has the unwavering ability to reanimate the spirit. Mint has a sweet, refreshing flavor accompanied by a cooling sensation that makes a great addition to any dessert. Discover how to elevate your chocolate chip cookie game by adding a burst of real mint.
Chives are low maintenance and prolific in their production, making them the perfect backyard herb. These long, wispy herbs have a mild onion flavor and pair well with just about everything. Try them out in Chef Diane’s authentic Korean chive pancakes.
Though the piney scent of rosemary tends to conjure images of cozying up to the fire, it can still bring the freshness of spring into you kitchen. Chef Abraham shows you how by taking a simple side of roasted potatoes to the next level.
The welcoming woodsy aroma of thyme has the ability to add layers of flavor to a variety of different foods without being overwhelming. Plus, running your fingers down the length of a sprig and watching the tiny leaves fall off is one of the more satisfying kitchen tasks. See for yourself how well it peps up parsnips in this recipe for spring parsnip mash.
Often referred to as “the pizza herb,” Oregano packs a punch with an assertive peppery bite. Oregano’s flavor is bold and gutsy. It wants to be noticed. That’s why it’s best showcased in a hearty tomato sauce atop Chef Kira’s Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
Dill is one of those herbs that is far more flavorful when it’s fresh. Dill’s bright feathery leaves pair well with almost everything, and you can use the entire plant—from stem to seed! Learn how to infuse dill into a tangy tzatziki with Chef Daniel.
Oh the feeling of soft, velvety sage leaves. Sage leaves are extremely tender and have an aroma reminiscent of pine and eucalyptus. Sage is also super easy to grow and super easy to infuse into Chef Danielle’s divine sage brown butter sauce.
One of the biggest differences between a good cook and a great cook is their love of herbs and their knowledge of how to use them. But learning how to properly season your dishes with fresh herbs doesn’t usually happen by following a recipe to the T or mastering some precise alchemistic technique. It’s all about having fun, experimenting, and letting a fresh wave of creativity to enter into your cooking this spring.