Fresh herbs are the secret weapon of home cooks and chefs. Finely chopped for a garnish, used to infuse marinades and vinaigrettes or braised with poultry and meat, they can transform an average dish into something truly unforgettable.
Get inspired by these 10 delicious ideas! (But remember to rinse fresh herbs under fresh, cool running water before using.)
1. Flavour ice cubes
Aside from boosting the flavour of soups, stews and sauces, herbs like mint, thyme, rosemary and basil make beautiful and tasty ice cubes. Easy enough to be a freezer staple, they’re an elegant detail that guests will appreciate. Wash fresh herbs, chop, tear or gently bruise them (rub lightly to release their aroma) and place in an ice cube tray. Add water to the tray and freeze.
2. Add to salads
Typically relegated to garnish territory, parsley, chives, cilantro and mint are capable of so much more. Lettuce is lovely, but fresh herbs bring another level of deliciousness when added generously to spinach, arugula or spring mix. Even brighten up grain-based salads, like our Brown Rice Tabbouleh, with a handful of freshly chopped herbs.
3. Dress up desserts
Baked fruit desserts are always a hit, showcasing the best the seasons have to offer. Add in fresh herbs and you have a whole new flavour. Thyme is warm, peppery and perfectly complements the sweet acidity of fruit. Try it in Barbecued Peach & Blueberry Streusel – a simple desert that’s grilled on the barbecue! Popular in Italian and Thai cooking, basil is as equally at home in sweet dishes as it is in savoury ones. Our Peach & Blackberry Parcels, which uses finely chopped fresh basil, is a nice finish for your next brunch menu.
4. Mix into chilled drinks
Herbs are a classic garnish for lemonade and iced tea, but don’t stop there. Cilantro brings a fresh twist to our Grilled Citrus Caesar, while rosemary pairs well with fruit-based cocktails made with citrus, grapes and watermelon. Our Pomegranate Sangria is infused with mint to release its full flavour, or try pairing ginger with thyme in this Fizzy Thyme-Ginger Lemonade. You can even elevate your next slushy experience with fresh basil leaves for garnish. Or simply use those herb-infused ice cubes to chill your favourite drink.
5. Make an herbal tea
For a simple herbal tea, steep fresh peppermint leaves in hot water and enjoy. Or try Moroccan mint tea that can be served hot or cold. Bring eight cups of water to boil in a pot. Once boiling, remove it from the heat and add five bags of green tea and steep for five minutes, covered. Add a fresh bunch of mint to the pot and steep for another five minutes. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir until it completely dissolves (or sweeten according to preference once served). Strain and enjoy.
6. Boost marinades
Rosemary and mint pair well with meats like lamb and pork, while dill and fish are a good match. (Tip: Once the leaves are removed from a sprig of rosemary, the leftover stem can be repurposed as a flavour-enhancing and environmentally friendly kabob stick.) Herbs like thyme, cilantro and basil pair well with chicken and shellfish.
7. Power up pestos
If you’ve got leftover herbs, cheese ends and nuts, you’ve got homemade pesto! Make small batches with a mortar and pestle or whip up a big batch of your favourite pesto recipe in a food processor. The best part? Pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays and stashed away for your next pasta night. Watch our video for Easy Zucchini & Spinach Pesto.
8. Add it to baked goods
When used in moderation, fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme can add a savoury and floral taste to baked goods such as scones and flatbread. Or try our Low-Fat Strawberry Tea Loaf with an irresistible Lemon-Basil Glaze.
9. Get cheesy
Cheese and fresh herbs make good friends. For a quick appetizer, make our Barbecued Brie with Fresh Herbs – it uses a combination of cilantro and parsley. Or craft your own homemade flavoured cream cheese by adding cilantro and salsa. Bocconcini meets basil in this quick (but impressive) summer salad: Tomato & Bocconcini Salad with Balsamic Glaze.
10. Pair with fruit
Try Melon with Basil & Chili, where basil is a surprisingly savoury contrast to sweet melon. (We steeped the basil stems in a simple syrup to infuse the herb’s full flavour.) For a fun frozen treat, make Watermelon-Mint Pops — simply purée watermelon and mint, pour into ice pop moulds and freeze.