Plated: Seasonal Herbs

By Rebecca Turner

Seasonal herbs for your favorite meals
Every season has a set of flavors. Fall and winter showcase full-bodied flavors, while the warmer months of spring and summer deliver a fresher and lighter taste best found through seasonal herbs. In celebration of the spring season (looking to the summer), introduce seasonal herbs to your dishes to add a fresher taste to your favorite meals.

Chives are the onion’s sweeter cousin, with a milder and fresher taste, but don’t stand up well to heat. Use chives to garnish soups and salads. Sprinkle chives over baked or roasted potatoes, stir them into crab cakes, or add them to butter for a tasty spring spread.

Popular in Greek and Italian cuisines, look for crisp and brightly colored leaves when shopping for dill. This feathery fresh green herb adds a fragrant bite to vegetable dips or egg salads. Dill also pairs well with wild-caught salmon, beets, eggs, and yogurt. Many use it for homemade pickles too.

One of the few herbs perfect for dinner, dessert, and cocktails! Mint has a sweet and spicy scent that is almost universally known and is easy to grow at home. Use fresh mint daily, and add flavor to your favorite tea.

Cilantro compliments sweet and savory flavors and can add a fresh twist to drinks, dressings, guacamole, rice, tacos, and smoothies. But, not everyone is a fan, for some cilantro tastes like soap or dirt due to genetics. Be mindful before serving up cilantro to a large crowd.

There are over 30 varieties of Basil. The most common found in stores is sweet Basil. Sweet Basil is a versatile spring and summer herb that is best used raw in salads or soups as it does not withstand heat well. Classic basil dishes include Caprese salads and homemade spaghetti sauces, but it is also delicious with fresh strawberries in salads and over-seared salmon.

Parsley has a lot of benefits beyond aesthetics. Parsley is high in vitamin K with anti-inflammatory properties. Combine parsley with lemon for a savory and springy seasoning for white fish like cod. Put chopped parsley on everything: grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, pasta, or grain dishes. Don’t toss the stems of any herb! Use stems to boost salads, soups, broths, pestos, and pasta sauces. You paid for the whole bunch. You should get your money’s worth.

To maximize flavor:
1. Chop herbs finely to release more oils, enhancing the fragrance.
2. Sprinkle a variety of herbs in or on top of salads, pilafs, or omelets.
3. Toss any vegetable with fresh herbs before or after roasting.
4. Rub meat, fish, or seafood with fresh herbs before cooking.
5. Add herbs to the end of cooking for a more distinct flavor and at the beginning for more blended flavors.
6. Parsley and cilantro are delicate; chop right before use.

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