Herbs can add a lovely Mediterranean flavour to your food. Image via Adobe Stock

Add a touch of the Mediterranean to your cooking with fresh herbs

Fresh herbs add a special flavour to any dish, with each herb adding its own unique quality and taste.


Herbs can add a lovely Mediterranean flavour to your food. Image via Adobe Stock

Leaves, seeds, and even flowers of herb plants used correctly can take a dish from good to great. They are also so easy to grow yourself – you can grow them in little pots in a sunny spot in your kitchen and have them on hand to pick when you are cooking.

Here are some suggestions for some common herbs, leaves, and seeds, and how to use them when cooking.

Cooking with herbs

Basil – Conjuring images of Italy, basil is best used fresh, and is especially good with tomatoes and tomato sauces, fresh salads, and egg dishes.  

Chives – Chives can be used in hot or cold dishes and are delicious in salads and soups. They can be used fresh or frozen and make an excellent garnish.

Dill – Best known for the seeds one finds in a jar of pickles, dill leaves can also be used to add extra flavour to cold soups, salads, cooked vegetables, and fish.

Marjoram – Marjoram is perfectly paired with vegetables like green beans, cabbage, and mushrooms, salads, tomatoes, and chicken and egg dishes. This herb can also be substituted for oregano if needs be.  

Oregano – A favourite in pasta sauces, particularly spaghetti, and pizza, as well as soups, salads, and chicken.

Parsley – Probably the best known of all the herbs and easy to grow, parsley is a perfect addition or accompaniment to almost any kind of food, from soups, salads, and stews, to all kinds of potatoes, and cooked vegetables.

Rosemary – Rosemary has a distinctly strong aroma and flavour and works beautifully with meats such as pork, lamb, and chicken, as well as peas and potatoes. Use rosemary sparingly though, as overuse can cause the herb to overpower the flavour of the food.

Sage – Sage is an excellent addition to meatloaf, sausage, and stuffing. Add a few leaves onto roasted butternut for extra taste.

Tarragon – This herb is used to flavour fish, chicken, eggs, and vinegar.

Thyme – This delicate herb is perfect for using with rich wintery dishes, such as stews, sausages, soups, and cooked vegetables. As with rosemary, this herb has a relatively strong flavour, so use sparingly to not overpower the taste of the food.

Top tips for cooking with herbs

  • For dishes that cook a long time, such as soups and stews, use a bouquet garni, a small tied bunch of fresh herb sprigs, which is easily removed. The traditional combination is a bay leaf, thyme, and parsley.
  • A standard minced herb mixture, made up of equal amounts of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives, can be added to a dish just before the end of cooking, and more may be sprinkled on when serving.