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  • GrowNYC Education

Cooking with Common Herbs

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Wondering what to do with all your fresh herbs? Many people have been using the small area on their kitchen windowsill, a balcony, container gardens, or any small spaces in NYC to grow herbs (or maybe you bought some herbs)! The versatility of herbs is what makes them perfect for creative cooking. Here are some guidelines for using 8 common herbs in the kitchen:

Parsley and Cilantro

Let’s start with parsley and cilantro. While they look similar, they have very different flavor profiles. If you are lucky enough to not have the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, then it is the perfect base for delicious salsa verdes or South Asian chutneys. It goes great as a garnish for Mexican dishes or it can be cooked in an Asian stir fry. Parsley on the other hard goes best with Italian and Middle Eastern dishes. From soup to pasta to fish, parsley adds that extra bit of flavor to take the dish to the next level.

Mint and Basil

Next there's mint and basil. Both are much sweeter herbs, which is why my favorite use is in ice cream. By infusing the cream for a few hours, you can create an incredibly complex flavor. Some of my favorites are homemade mint chocolate chip and watermelon basil sorbet. Mint can also be used in salsa and chutneys like the parsley and cilantro. Basil on the other hand is very nutrient and water rich herb, so when you cook with it, the water evaporates and the flavor goes along with it. That's why basil is best used as a garnish on Italian dishes and on desserts.

Thyme and Chives

Now let's move on to thyme and chives. Both of these herbs are delicious paired with meat, especially poultry and fish, since their flavor profile compliments light meats perfectly. You can also use thyme in your stocks along with bay leaves to create that deep flavor in your soups. Chives really thrive in creamy dishes, such as omelettes, sour creams, thick soups, and potato dishes of any kind.

Rosemary and Sage

Finally we have rosemary and sage. These two have the most potent flavors and aromas out of all the eight herbs listed, which is why they are perfect for both brewing fresh tea and frying in olive oil. When you fry these herbs, they begin to crumble and create crunchy little bits of flavor that you can garnish on almost anything. I recommend mixing it in with bread crumbs, adding it to pasta, mixing it in butter to brush onto red meats, and blending it into pizza sauce. Their strong flavors pair well together and heighten the flavors of whatever you add them to.

No matter how much space, time, or cooking skill you have, herbs provide an easy way to make you home smell delicious, look lively with the pop of green, and transform your dishes! Here are some images of my herb garden back home in the Bay Area!

Written by: Sarah Rizvi, GrowNYC Intern

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