it's thyme to start using fresh herbs in your everyday cooking

It's hard to think of a dish that isn't improved by adding fresh herbs. If I'm making mashed potatoes, I'm adding fresh thyme. If it's taco night, a giant...

By: Anna Decker / 08/08/2016

It's hard to think of a dish that isn't improved by adding fresh herbs. If I'm making mashed potatoes, I'm adding fresh thyme. If it's taco night, a giant bunch of cilantro is guaranteed to be on my cutting board. Fresh herbs add brightness, beautiful flavor, and take any dish to a new level. Try adding fresh herbs to a canned soup and compare the difference—you'll never look back!There are only a few golden rules to cooking with herbs that you should be sure to follow:1. Use all herbs as soon as possible after buying (or harvesting from your garden) 2. Be sure to rinse, but dry immediately as water will wilt more delicate leaves such as cilantro and basil3. Always use a sharp knife when chopping or julienning to avoid bruising4. Store herbs by wrapping them in a dry paper towel and placing them in a ziploc bag in the fridge. Air is the enemy! 5. Use fresh herbs whenever possible, but here are some great tips for getting the most out of dried herbs. Once you have the rules down, the uses for herbs are endless. Infuse olive oil for cooking, keep a dried bundle wrapped in cheesecloth in your dresser drawers, and of course, we shouldn't forget their medicinal powers! Get to know your favorites and don't be afraid to experiment in different ways, as herbs are an inexpensive and plentiful resource in many stores and markets. Cilantro Also known as coriander, cilantro has a pronounced and distinct flavor that stands up well to spicy foods. Asian and Latin American cuisines wouldn't be the same without it. However, not everyone loves cilantro with the same fervor as others (and me), and that's not solely by choice! According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, some people may be genetically predisposed to dislike the polarizing herb. Luckily, the Martha and Marley Spoon test kitchen has many cilantro fans, and cilantro is well-used and well-loved, especially in one of our best selling dishes: our chorizo and kale tostadas. tostadaschorizo & kale tostadas with radish and cilantroDillDill is commonly known as the pickling herb, as it works well (and looks beautiful) in a glass jar with a vinegar brine and other spices, giving cucumbers their signature makeover. Dill has a fresh and grassy flavor that's often delicious in salads, soups, and sauces, as well as savory baked goods (cheddar dill scones, anyone??). It pairs well with fish, we love it in egg salad, but we don't think it can shine any brighter than in this potato salad, served alongside super moist barbecue chicken. Summer is far from over and we'll be cooking this recipe until it is. Barbecue Chicken with Dill Pickle Potato Saladbarbecue chicken with dill pickle potato saladBasil Basil is widely used in Italian cooking (a tomato is basically its BFF), and its delicate leaves are best used raw or added at the end of the cooking process, so as to not wilt and brown. Basil has a floral flavor that perfumes rice, salads, and pasta sauces in a subtle way—buy basil in big batches, and keep it on your counter top in a glass of water and out of direct sunlight for a beautiful bouquet. Two recipes come to mind when we think of basil.thai basilthai herb & pork salad with radish and carrotsand Pork Chops with Yellow Pepper Puttanescapork chops with yellow pepper puttanescaThyme Thyme is perhaps most often associated with and used in French cuisine, and it's as multipurpose as can be. Thyme has a woody and subtle flavor that doesn't distinctly stand out, but it brings a wonderful earthiness anywhere it's added. Roasted vegetables are transformed with a sprinkle of chopped thyme, and in this baked mushroom pasta, its rich flavor warms us up even on the hottest of summer days.mushroombaked mushroom pasta with parmesan and thymeMint We're all about using mint in savory dishes, despite its traditional role in desserts. Mint has a mild scent and a peppery flavor, and is great mixed with other herbs for a contrast of flavors. This gluten-free pasta is one of our favorites: aside from looking beautiful, the mint cuts through the creamy sauce for an herbaceous punch. Gluten-Free Goat Cheese Pastagluten-free goat cheese pasta with green beans, sweet corn and mint_Featured illustration by_ Laura Manzano

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