We like tablespoons of herbs when we are cooking. Rather than a garnish or a mere sprinkle, we see herbs as major components of our cooking and meals. Making a soup? At least one tablespoon each of two herb blends make their way into the pot. Marinating a steak? Two tablespoons of Grilling Blend in ½ cup of olive oil, pour over the steak and let sit during the day in the fridge until dinner time. This amount of herbs provides a robust flavor, we think anyway. Lots of recipes, which we sometimes share with you, will call for only 1 teaspoon of herbs. How can you get any flavor out of that though?! Additionally, more herbs equals less salt, which so many of us could use. Finally, you can add as little or as much as you want, according to your tastes. We recommend more, more and then a little more! But beyond salt, what other benefits might there be to increasing your use of culinary herbs?
Research is showing that culinary herbs also have some amazing health benefits, mainly via the key constituent polyphenols. Poly-what-ols you may be asking? These components of many plants, including herbs, are found in higher quantities in dried herbs (Opara and Chohan, 2014). Previously, scientists and nutritionists discounted the health benefits of these compounds in culinary herbs, primarily because people were not eating large quantities of them – just a sprinkle here or there. Polyphenols have been “known to possess a number of properties associated with reducing the risk of developing chronic non-communicable diseases,” (Opara and Chohan, 2014). While it is still unclear if the polyphenols can really aid significantly to lower the risk of these diseases, there is great possibility.
Dried herbs work best when added in the beginning or middle of your cooking, while fresh are best added right near the end. It takes 2x as much fresh as dried in your recipe. But how do you decide what is enough for your palate? Why experiment of course? Each person has their own level of flavor preference – and flavor combinations. One person who loves our Mexican blend in their pizza sauce (unusual, but hey we support individual taste preferences!) – would make another person cringe. Others love certain herbs such as tarragon (one with a stronger flavor and a favorite of Eloyce’s), while some loathe them (tarragon is not a favorite of Erin’s, she greatly prefers winter savory – yum!). So our basic suggestions include: start with some common herbs such as oregano, marjoram, thyme, and chives. Add a little, give a stir and a moment for the flavor to infuse, then give a taste. Can’t tell you added anything? Add more! Be willing to experiment and be open to the flavor. We often find that dried herbs infuse best when left for a bit in the dish. Perfect for doing some prep cooking on the weekend for quick weeknight meals.
Here are a few other quick and easy ways to try out herbs in your cooking (with quantity suggestions from your favorite herb loving ladies!):
- Herb up your jarred pasta sauce with 1 Tbsp each of dried basil and oregano, and 1 tsp of dried rosemary
- Making a salad dressing? 1 Tbsp each of dill and chives in a creamy dressing provides a nice kick, while 1 tsp of dried thyme and 2 tsp dried marjoram will add a nice flavor to your vinaigrette style dressing
- Our favorite marinade: 1 Tbsp savory, 1 tsp each of rosemary and thyme, along with a couple of light sprinkles of ground pepper in ½ cup of olive oil; pour over meat and leave up to 6 hours in the fridge before broiling or placing on the bar-b-que
- Mix 1 Tbsp each of parsley and chives, along with 2 tsp savory to ¼ cup of olive oil (or similar oil)- toss with cut up chunks of potatoes, carrots and other root veggies for a delicious roasted veggie medley – a delicious complement to any main dish
Opara, E. and M. Chohan. 2014. Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227268/
Other inspiration gotten from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/the-health-benefits-of-herbs/2015/04/13/4668c73a-dd59-11e4-acfe-cd057abefa9a_story.html?utm_term=.f492aa065eaa