Fresh herbs give an instant lift to most dishes. There is such a wide variety of herbs available, it is sometimes confusing to know what goes with what!
You can buy fresh herbs from most green grocers and supermarkets, but why don’t you try and grow your own? Even if you haven’t got a garden, they are very happy on a sunny windowsill in your home. Mints thrive in a bathroom and give a wonderful fresh scent – a natural air freshener that’s good for you too!
Basil – Tomato based sauces and casseroles, pasta, chicken, fish, vegetables, mixed salads, fresh tomatoes, cheese
Rosemary – (use very little) Beef, lamb, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash.
Coriander – Curries, butternut soup, fresh tomatoes
Chives – Most dishes, especially good with risotto, vegetables, gnocchi, pasta al fredo, chicken, soups, cheese and eggs
Oregano – Italian dishes, pizza, pasta and tomato based casseroles
Mint – Chicken, rice, lamb, peas, some curries, fish, baby potatoes, mixed salads, beetroot, pineapple and chocolate
Dill – Perfect with salmon and other fish. Also good with potatoes, green beans or carrots
Fennel – great with salads, fish and cheese dishes
Parsley – most savoury dishes. Add at the end of cooking to retain the flavour
Thyme – chicken, beef, lamb, pork, sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage
Bay – this is the only herb that has a better flavour when it is dried, it can be bitter when fresh. Use it with all meats and vegetables which are cooked in soups and casseroles.
Lavender – cakes and sugars, marinade for meat
Sage – red meats, root vegetables, breads and strong cheeses
Chili – there is a huge variety available nowadays. Some are very mild and some are fiery. Apart from the obvious, adding to curries and sauces, they can give a great lift to salads and veggies. Use a small amount first, stir it in and then leave for at least 5 minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Chili takes about 5 minutes to develop its flavour in a dish, so it’s very easy to add too much.