So, you’re strolling through the produce section and you think to yourself, “What’s all this green stuff?”. You accidentally pick up parsley when you really needed cilantro, or basil when you were actually looking for mint.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
Cooking with herbs can be quite the challenge when you’re not familiar with what’s out there. To help you increase your knowledge in the kitchen and unleash the Master Chef inside of you, we’ve created a quick guide for cooking with herbs.
Cooking with Herbs | A Beginner’s Guide
Rosemary is one of the most fragrant herbs. It’s pungent, woody smell is great for infusing flavor into proteins or roasts. The needlelike leaves can be chopped and added to dishes as a seasoning or full stems can be added to more complex meals to infuse as much flavor as possible.
Because it possesses such a strong flavor, a little rosemary goes a long way, but it can be used to complement a wide variety of dishes. No matter if you’re looking for something sweet or something savory, rosemary can give any dish a flavorful kick.
Try it: Savory: Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Red Potatoes and Asparagus | Sweet: Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
We can’t imagine a world where cooking with onions doesn’t happen regularly. Unlike most of its cousins, chives possess a mild flavor. They are most often used as a topping for salads, blended to create dressings, or sometimes cooked with grains to provide a subtle burst of flavor and a slight crunch.
Tip: These small and light onions look very similar to green onions. Chives look more like grass needles, where green onions have a slight white bulb at the base.
Mint is another versatile herb. It is commonly used as a garnish in both sweet and savory dishes.
There are many different varieties of mint, but the most common for cooking purposes is spearmint. Spearmint leaves are small and possess a light, cool, and sweet flavor. Most commonly used whole, these beautiful leaves are used in every meal—breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even drinks!
One of our favorite uses of mint is in rice dishes. Our Curried Coconut Chicken features shredded mint leaves inside a fluffy bed of basmati rice. The mint gives just the right amount of flavor to the plain rice, that perfectly lightens up the hearty coconut curry sauce.
Sage is used for more than just christening a new home. Sage is a beautiful herb that is full of aromatic flavor.
The warm fragrance of sage makes red meats even heartier when roasted. The long and fuzzy leaves contain a musty flavor that pairs well with citrus. You can commonly find sage in Italian dishes, typically with veal and in French dishes that use heartier meats, such as sausages and lamb.
This leafy herb is the ultimate green food. It’s earthy and slightly peppery flavor is perfect for salads, seafood, pasta, quiche, smoothies, and much much more.
In the spring time, menus are full of recipes overflowing with this spinach-like green. We feature arugula in one of our most popular dishes. Our Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza gives arugula the spotlight it deserves. Give it a try tonight to taste this fresh herb for yourself.
Try it: Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza
Cilantro is Mexico’s favorite herb. It has a fresh and citrusy flavor that is always seen on top of tacos, enchiladas, and more. It’s also used in salsas, and other dips, providing a light and fresh flavor.
The chefs at Atkins use cilantro in a whole new way. Blended with smoky chipotle peppers in adobo, tomato paste, and a pinch of sugar, this fiery cilantro sauce is slathered over a charred flank steak to create a lean dish that’s packed with irresistible flavor.
This slightly peppery and bitter herb is so much more than just a garnish. Its unique flavor can be used in a wide variety of dishes. From spicy marinades to light vinaigrettes, you can get a lot of use out of just one bunch of this leafy herb.
One of our newest dishes, Herbed Mahi Mahi Fish en Papillote packs in heaps of parsley. This French cooking style houses all ingredients in a parchment pack that locks in moisture and lets the unique flavors mingle to create a truly mouth-watering dish in just minutes.
Thyme is another widely used herb. It’s a low-growing herb that produces tiny leaves. These tiny leaves possess a subtle minty and earthy flavor that makes for a perfect seasoning for red meat, pork, and poultry.
The Lemon-Thyme Salmon by Dr. Oz The Good Life challenges the norm. A myriad of bright, roasted vegetables come together in this dish as the bed for a lemony-thyme marinated salmon filet that will simply melt in your mouth. The tart citrus flavors are mellowed by the subtle flavors of the thyme, creating an almost vinaigrette like marinade that you’ll crave time and time again.
Dill is a light herb that possesses a mildly sharp, yet soft flavor. The feathery herb can be used whole and in large quantities—don’t worry, it takes a lot of dill to overpower a dish.
To make the most out of the unique flavor of dill, use it in spreads and sauces or use it as a garnish for summer produce like cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn.
The Lemon-Dill Chicken Meatball Soup from Good Housekeeping uses a small bunch of dill to give the heavy broth a kick of light and fresh flavor. One customer said,
I was a little hesitant about the dill part since it reminded me of the dill pickle taste (which I disdain to this day). I've been missing out on all the dill goodness! The herb elevated this dish and was a nice addition to the lemon tanginess. This dish tasted like it came out of a restaurant in the French Quarter. The Mirepoix trinity: celery, onion and carrots - Yum! My wife enjoyed this more than I had fun cooking it. Will definitely reorder again soon!
- Gerald from Chicago, Illinois
Try it: Lemon-Dill Chicken Meatball Soup
Basil is one of the most versatile herbs that is seen in a wide variety of cuisines. From hearty Italian pasta dishes to spicy Thai entrees to light American cocktails, the light and fresh flavor of basil is showcased in many just about every culture.
Contrary to popular belief, one of the most popular dishes in Thailand is Chicken Basil—not Pad Thai. This widely popular dish uses heaps of basil while sautéing fiery peppers, garlic, and chicken. Cooking basil creates an aromatic experience that will have your mouth watering before the dish is even finished. This dish puts basil in the spotlight, rather than using it as merely a garnish.
Try it: Chicken Basil with Jasmine Rice