Spice up your summer meals with fresh herbs. Herbs are a great way to add flavor without using salt. In addition, many herbs contain disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and fiber. Fresh herbs are abundant this time of year, so now is the perfect time to add them to your favorite recipes.
1. Rosemary has a pine flavor and aroma, and is native to the Mediterranean region. It is often used to flavor roasted meats, such as lamb, pork, chicken, or turkey. Try adding rosemary to your favorite marinade or to roasted potatoes.
2. Fresh mint adds a refreshing splash of flavor to iced tea or to salads. The sweet flavor also pairs well with lamb. Keep your mint fresh for longer by cutting the ends and storing it upright in a glass of water.
3. Basil is a traditional summer favorite and is often added to tomato sauce. It is native to India, but is best known for being featured in Italian cuisine. It’s strong and sweet flavor goes well with tomato, fresh mozzarella, and olive oil to make a refreshing Caprese Salad. It can also be mixed with olive oil, garlic and pine nuts to make fresh pesto.
4. Dill is a member of the celery family. Fresh dill and can be added to grilled fish or chicken, vegetables, potatoes, or salads.
5. Oregano has a spicy, peppery flavor and is full of antioxidants. It is commonly added to pizza and pasta sauces. Try sautéing oregano with vegetables or add it to a fresh salad. It can also be used with roasted meat and fish.
6. Thyme is also high in antioxidants and tastes like a cross between oregano and rosemary. It is one of the components of Herbes de Provence, which is used in southern French cooking. Thyme adds great flavor to fish, grilled chicken, vegetables, and tomato sauce.
7. Fresh cilantro is traditionally used in Mexican, Indian and Thai dishes. Cilantro comes from the leaves of the coriander plant, and is high in antioxidants. Cilantro is a controversial herb, and people tend to either love it or hate it, which may be due to genetic predisposition. If you enjoy the aroma of cilantro, try adding it to your favorite salsa, guacamole, or salad.
8. You may have Bee balm, also known as bergamont, growing in your yard. It has a long history of being used by Native Americans for its medicinal properties. When cooking, it can be substituted for oregano or mint, and can be used as a seasoning for meat. The leaves can be steeped for an herbal tea called Oswego tea, which is used for digestive disorders. To make Oswego tea, add one teaspoon of Oswego tea leaves to 8 ounces of boiling water and allow it to infuse. Add some honey to sweeten.
9. Chives are a species of onion and taste like a mix between onions and garlic. They are rich in vitamins A and C. Try adding them to a potato salad or to grilled fish.
10. Lavender is a member of the mint family and adds a floral and sweet flavor to dishes. It can be added to salads, fruits, or in a marinade for grilled meat. Lavender flowers can also be added to tea.
11. Parsley has a grassy flavor and adds a bright pop of color to any dish. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is high in folic acid and antioxidants. It can be added to potatoes, rice, fish, chicken, lamb, or steak. Make a tabouli salad by combining fresh parsley with bulgur wheat, chopped scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil.
12. Sage is native to the Mediterranean region and has a sweet flavor. It pairs well with grilled chicken or pork.
Try this delicious salmon recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which uses fresh thyme.
Napa Valley Glazed Salmon
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon white pepper
1¼ pounds salmon, cut into 4 pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Combine the honey, thyme, mustard, lemon zest, and pepper in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon in a shallow roasting pan lined with cooking foil. Using the back of a spoon, spread the honey mixture to coat the top of each fillet.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes with a fork.
Serving Size: 3 ounces
Nutrition facts per serving: 270 calories, 11 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 135 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein