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VOL. 39 | NO. 35 | Friday, August 28, 2015

Need advice on herbs? Here’s some sage wisdom

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If you are just now learning to cook, knowing what herbs and spices go with what foods can be daunting.

I know when I started experimenting I thought I would never learn. So I have tried to identify basic herbs generally needed for most foods. I hope this will help.

Basil: Fresh basil has a pungent flavor that is very common and popular. Use it in tomato sauces, pesto sauces, vinegar and with lamb, fish, poultry, pasta, rice, tomatoes and Italian dishes. Also try a large basil leaf with a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella cheese.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper – this is one terrific salad.

Chives: This mild onion-flavor herb has a slender, vivid green and hollow stem. Use as topping for baked potatoes, fish and poultry, and vegetables. It can be used as a substitute for green onions or as a garnish. Also great in soups and sauces.

Cilantro: Use in Asian and Mexican cooking or as a garnish. Popular in salsa, guacamole, Thai peanut sauce, enchiladas and chicken dishes. Cilantro is also called coriander and has a pungent fragrance.

Dill: This tangy and pungent-flavored herb is known for its feathery green leaves. Use to flavor fish and rice, sprinkle over potatoes and cucumbers and add to sauces and dips.

Balsamic and Honey Salmon with Vegetables

1/2 tsp. olive oil
2 small zucchini, cut into match-like sticks
3 baby carrots, cut into strips
2 skin-on salmon fillets
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons honey
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Chopped fresh basil

Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Prepare salmon by seasoning with your favorite dry rub seasoning. Mine is Potlatch Dry Rub. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add vegetables; cook about 5-8 minutes, or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Drizzle half of the balsamic-honey mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat.

Transfer fish and vegetables to plate. Drizzle a bit of the balsamic honey dressing over the fish. Top the vegetables with the parmesan cheese and basil.

Mint: This aromatic herb can be used to make teas, beverages and desserts. Can also be used as a garnish. It is popular in Indian cuisine.

Oregano: This herb has a strong flavor and aroma. Used to flavor tomato sauces, vinegar, omelets, quiche, bread, marinated vegetables, beef, poultry, black beans and pizza.

Parsley: This fresh-flavored herb, slightly green and piney, is more commonly used as a flavoring and as a garnish. Use to flavor grilled meat, poultry, soups, omelets, mashed potatoes, and salads. It may be used in herbal butters and vinegars or as a garnish.

Rosemary: Rosemary’s silver-green, needle-shaped leaves are highly aromatic and their flavor is one of both lemon and pine. Use for poultry, lamb, veal, pork and tomato dishes, stews, soups and vegetables. Also good finely chopped in breads and custards.

Sage: This slightly bitter and musty-mint tasting herb has narrow, oval and gray-green leaves. Use in chicken and turkey stuffing and to flavor sausages.

Tarragon: This aromatic herb, with narrow, pointed, dark green leaves, is known for its distinctive anise-like flavor. Use to flavor vinegars, herbal butter, shellfish, mayonnaise, sour cream dressing, poultry, turkey, mushrooms, broccoli and rice. Use the fresh leaves in salads, tartar sauce, and French dressing.

Thyme: This herb has pungent minty, light-lemon scent. Use in stews, soups, casseroles, meatloaf, stuffing, marinades and vegetables.

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.

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