Whether you’re a regular cook, a gardener or an aspiring chef who loves to make flavorful meals, you know herbs grow like weeds this time of year. They’re everywhere you look — at the farmer’s market, grocery store and in that little patch in the backyard. Don’t let them go wild or go to waste.
Here are four quick-and-easy ways to put these fresh friends to use in your everyday meals to make them more memorable, and most of all, more flavorful!
1. MAKE A BIG SALAD
When the weather heats up, our interest in cooking lessens. That’s when a big salad becomes an easy dinner option. Adding fresh herbs is a surefire way to make the meal memorable. Think beyond romaine, spinach and arugula, and start adding tender herbs like parsley, cilantro, chervil, tarragon, mint or dill. Simply rinse the herbs, pat them dry, then pull leaves from the stems and add them, whole, to any salad. Go easy on the dressing — a light vinaigrette allows the flavor and fresh notes of the herbs to shine. Want to bulk up your salad? Try adding cooked grains, meats or even fried or poached eggs and make it a meal.
2. TOP A PIZZA (OR YOUR NEXT SLICE OF TOAST)
Whether you’re making pizza from scratch, or popping a frozen one in the oven, adding torn fresh herbs like dill, parsley, oregano or basil make your pie shine. Cook the pizza first, then add the herbs (otherwise they’ll wilt). If you’re not making pizza anytime soon, try sprinkling fresh herbs over your next slice of avocado toast for a burst of flavor and color.
3. PUT ‘EM IN A SALAD DRESSING
Fresh herbs are a perfect excuse to experiment with salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Their fresh flavors take a simple oil-and-vinegar mixture to the next level by rounding out the fat and acid flavors. A vinaigrette with fresh herbs lasts for weeks in the fridge, which also makes it a sensible way to stretch your ingredients. If you prefer something creamy, finely chopped herbs can boost a sharp dressing made of cream or fresh cheese as well. Pungent, assertive herbs like dill or chives are favorites. Be sure to chop the herbs finely, so they mix in well to whatever your concoction may be and to ensure even flavor distribution.
4. WHIP UP A SPREAD
It’s no secret that having extra basil is a great reason to make pesto. But extra parsley, cilantro and mint are great reasons, too. If you’re not into pesto, create a spread or herby homemade hummus instead. Toss your fresh herbs into a food processor with other ingredients you have on hand (Think: sturdy greens, like kale, spinach or arugula, avocados, nuts, garbanzo beans, cheese and oils) and give it a whirl. Play with your own recipe, aiming to make something creamy and flavorful to spread on crackers or sandwiches, to dip vegetables into or to add to one-bowl meals as an extra burst of flavor.
Be bold. Your herbs deserve it!