Fresh herbs have long enjoyed a place of importance in the hearts of cooks. They are, without a doubt, the most versatile culinary ingredients. Fresh herbs add rich and savory flavors to foods, perking up and adding depth to vegetables and soups. They are a quick, healthy and fat-free way to add spice to everyday meals without adding additional sodium and calories.
- In most recipes you can very easily substitute fresh herbs for dry herbs by using about 3 times the amount—1 tsp. dry equals 1 Tbsp. fresh.
- Buy herbs with vibrant color and aroma. Avoid those that are limp, yellowing, have black spots or don’t smell totally fresh.
- To store—Trim unwashed herb bunches. Wrap in a damp paper towel and slip into a plastic bag filled with a little air to prevent crushing. Place in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Wash when ready to use.
- Use a sharp knife when cutting fresh herbs. A dull one will crush and bruise the herbs. Scissors also work well when chopping chives or snipping off tender leaves.
- Do you have leftover fresh herbs? Fill an ice cube tray with finely chopped herbs and pour water over just to cover. Freeze until solid. Pop frozen cubes in a freezer bag. Place into the freezer until needed.
- Fresh herbs can also be dried for later use—Remove leaves from the bottom inch of each stem. Bundle several stems together with string or a rubber band. Hang upside down in a warm, airy room. When completely dry, crumble the leaves into jars.
- Herb butters are one of the most wonderful treats you can make with herbs. Combine 1 stick of softened Earth Balance vegan buttery stick with 1 tsp. lemon juice and 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs of your choice. Transfer the mixture to a piece of waxed or parchment paper and roll into a log. Refrigerate until firm. Slice and serve with corn on the cob, Italian bread, steamed vegetables, baked potato or cooked pasta.
- Create herb-infused oils to use in vinaigrettes, as a bread dip or drizzled over cooked vegetables. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 cup of olive oil along with 5 sprigs of thyme or 2 sprigs of rosemary until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
- Think beyond lettuce—adding coarsely chopped herbs to a salad adds flavor and color. Dill, basil, mint and parsley are especially delicious.
AmacAdvantage, vol. 6, Issue 3, 46, 47.