Seasoned With Love: 5 Italian Herbs You Need in Your Kitchen, STAT
From fresh basil to sprigs of rosemary, Italian cooking is filled with the aroma and magic of herbs.
Just a pinch can easily lift up every creation, from a pizza sauce to a seafood special. Besides, herbs are known to be great for health. And, if you’re simply itching to bring the authentic taste of Italia to your kitchen, here are five herbs that’ll do the trick.
This fragrant green herb came to Italy via India, through the spice trade. Basil is very versatile, as it pairs beautifully with all kinds of ingredients, such as cheese, tomatoes and even garlic. So, it’s used in a variety of Italian dishes to season sauces, meat and more.
What Italians Do With Basil
• Toss up a fresh Caprese salad
• Make a rich pesto with it
• Add sprigs of basil along with garlic and some olive oil, to add tons of flavour to a marinara sauce
• Garnish bruschetta and pizzas
• Use it to add flavour to cooking oil
When cooking with basil, remember to add it towards the very end, to retain its colour and freshness
Italians consider basil to be a symbol of love. Women took to placing basil pots at their windows as a signal that their beaus could come calling.
Buy our Basil Seed Pesto and taste the freshness and fragrance of basil, it’s a true celebration of the herb which lends flavour to so many Italian dishes.
Thyme, or ‘timo’ as the Italians call it, is another important herb commonly used in Italian cooking. This kitchen herb goes well with garlic and lemons and adds oodles of flavour to fish, vegetables and roasted meat.
What Italians Do With Thyme
• Add it to flavour soups, marinades and marinara sauces
• Season stews or light, seafood dishes with it
• When baking or roasting chicken, thyme adds extra flavour and aroma
• Add dried thyme to dough to create a moreish herbed bread
• Take off the stems and add fresh thyme leaves to a salad
• Unlike other herbs, thyme can be added at the beginning of the cooking process, so that it releases all its flavours
• Dried thyme, when stored properly, retains the unique flavour of fresh thyme. So, it works well as a substitute to fresh thyme
In ancient times, thyme was known as a symbol of courage and so, it was burned as incense, before battles.
While it may be one of the world’s most popular cooking herbs, it’s no secret that oregano tastes best in Italian cuisine. Or are we biased? It originated somewhere in Greece, but oregano is widely used to amp up Italian sauces and season pizzas. Equal parts sweet and spicy, this herb is used both fresh and dried, across dishes.
What Italians Do With Oregano
• Use it in tomato-based dishes such as pizza and pasta sauces
• Add it to olive oil to create a flavoured oil or a vinaigrette
• While using fresh oregano, use it as a garnish for all kinds of hearty vegetable dishes
• Use fresh or dried oregano for roasted or grilled chicken marinades
• It tastes best when it’s crushed by hand or chopped, before adding it to any preparation
• Oregano pairs well with food containing garlic, onion, basil and/or thyme
Years ago, the Greeks believed that anointing yourself with oregano would bring you dreams of your future spouse.
The Italian flat leaf parsley works best when it’s fresh and adds a certain zest to all kinds of preparations. Parsley is also considered to be a mouth-freshener, which is why it’s almost always added to garlic-based dishes.
What Italians Do With Parsley
• Flavour soups, sauces and stews with it
• Make a gremolata (a condiment containing chopped herbs and garlic)
• Use it to add flavour to salad dressings
• It’s best used fresh, since dried parsley can lose its flavour
• Remember to add parsley towards the end of the cooking process, so that it retains its colour and flavour
Parsley is thought to be good for digestion. In ancient times, it was customary to end your meal with a handful of fresh parsley to promote digestion and get rid of bad breath.
This classic Italian herb is used both dried and fresh in Italian cooking. This peppery herb goes well with thyme and is commonly used in roasted meat dishes and of course, homemade focaccia.
What Italians Do With Rosemary
• Infuse some rosemary in olive oil to add a dash of extra flavour to your meals
• Use it to season focaccia
• Italians popularly use fresh, chopped rosemary in white bean soups
• Season a dish of roasted potatoes or roasted chicken with it
• This is a sturdy herb and so, you can add it at the initial stages of preparation. The longer it’s cooked, the more potent the flavour
• While fresh rosemary is ideal, dried rosemary retains its aroma just as well and can be used to flavour your meals
In some cultures, rosemary is associated with love. In ancient times, it was incorporated into bridal bouquets or scattered on church floors for good luck.
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