One of the easiest ways to take your dish to the next level is to use fresh herbs. However not every herb is going to mix well with your dish. Each herb has a certain taste that may will only pair well with the flavor pallet of certain dishes. So how do you know that you are picking out the right herbs to use. Here we have the top five most popular herbs and the dishes that they go best with.
A close relative to mint, basil has a floral anise- and clove-like flavor and aroma. There are two main types of basil: Sweet, or Genoese, basil and Asian basils. In Western cuisine, basil is most often associated with Mediterranean foods like pesto and tomato sauce. Sweet basil pairs naturally with tomatoes, but it can be used with almost every type of meat or seafood. Asian basil has a more distinct anise flavor and is often used in soups, stews, stir-fries and curry pastes.
One of the most common and versatile herbs used in Western cooking, parsley has a light peppery flavor that complements other seasonings. It's most often used in sauces, salads and sprinkled over dishes at the end of cooking for a flash of green and a fresh taste. Flat-leaf or Italian parsley has the best texture and flavor for cooking. Curly parsley is best used only as a garnish.
Cilantro, also called coriander, has a flavor that some people find "soapy," but it's still one of the world's most popular spices. Many people are addicted to its bright refreshing flavor, and it's a staple of Latin and Asian cooking. The sweet stems and leaves are usually eaten raw, added after a dish has been cooked. The roots are used to make Thai curry pastes.
Although more commonly associated with sweet treats, mint lends its cooling, peppery bite to plenty of savory dishes, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa. Fresh mint is perfect for summer-fresh salads, to liven up a sauce and or to brew fragrant teas. The cooling flavor is also used to temper spicy curries.
A tough, woody herb with a pungent flavor, rosemary's spiky leaves can be used fresh or dried for long cooking in soups, meats, stews or sauces. Because the flavor is strong, it's best to add rosemary sparingly at first and more if needed. Fresh rosemary can be stored for about a week in the fridge either in a plastic bag or stems down in a glass of water with a plastic bag around the top.
However never be afraid to experiment in the kitchen! Try to create your own flavor combinations and remember to have fun with it. Read about more fresh herbs at Foodnetwork.com .