Cooking with herbs
Are you looking for a quick, easy and healthy way to brighten up your meals? Then you’ve come to the right place! Here’s our beginner’s guide to fresh and dried herbs:
These are best used as garnishes or in dishes with short cooking times—if your meal needs to cook for longer, adding fresh herbs toward the end of the process will help prevent them from losing their vibrancy and flavor. If you’re swapping them in for dried herbs in a recipe, then increase the amount by half, to allow for fresh herbs being less potent.
How to use them: Mix torn fresh basil into your spaghetti and meat sauce, blend fresh cilantro or parsley with chickpeas and lemon for a herby hummus, or garnish leek and potato soup with chopped fresh dill or chives. You can also use fresh herbs to add pizzazz to slimming-friendly dressings, marinades, sauces, and salads.
Dried herbs stand up well to heat and are a great way to infuse slow-cooker dishes with depth of flavor. Unlike fresh herbs, it’s best to add them early, ideally before the dish comes to a simmer, so the flavors have plenty of time to develop fully. To check your dried herbs are still in their prime, take a whiff when you open the jar—if there’s little aroma then they are most likely stale and should be replaced. Also note that a little goes a long way, since they have more concentrated flavor than fresh.
How to use them: Add dried thyme and rosemary to stews, toss some bay leaves into a jambalaya, or amp up chili with dried oregano.
And when to use both!
A general rule of thumb is to add dried herbs while cooking and fresh herbs when serving. For example, add dried oregano to chili while it simmers, then when serving, add a garnish of fresh cilantro.
Inspired? Look out for our next post featuring three flavor-packed recipes that combine fresh and dried herbs to maximum effect. In the meantime, you’ll find lots more information and recipe ideas on our website. Or try our exclusive 7-day Food Optimizing menu plan and start your own weight loss success story today.