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Growing Herbs for Cooking Your Favorite Cuisine

Growing Herbs for Cooking Your Favorite Cuisine

By Jenny Biczak, Lawn Central
Photographs courtesy of Lawn Central

Growing herbs for culinary use is quite easy. There’s nothing like adding your own fresh herbs to your favorite recipes. It adds an amazing amount of flavor to all of your meals. If you’ve never grown your own herbs, you may be surprised by what a difference there is between cooking with fresh versus dried herbs.

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When thinking of herbs and lining them up with your favorite recipes, you may discover that certain ones go with certain regions. For example, oregano may inspire Italian cooking, or just the smell of cilantro will have you longing for a flavorful Latin dish. Check out the suggestions below for herbs to match to your favorite regional cuisine.

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Italian Herbs

Using bright, flavor-rich herbs seems only natural when making Italian cuisine. All of the authentic foods like pizza, pasta, and pastries are made with these top picks for Italian herbs. Let’s not forget vegetable and seafood dishes as well.

Oregano is a go-to for pizza and pasta sauces but also fantastic in salad dressings, salads, stews, and meat dishes.

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley is a staple in Italian cooking, used in soups, seafood, and pasta sauces. Not to mention a perfect addition to any kind of pizza.

Basil is one of the most flavorful herbs in Italian cooking. It’s perfect for that Margherita pizza and for pesto but is also lovely in soups, stews, salads, sauces, and meat dishes.

Thyme is also making the list for Italian cooking herbs with its subtle minty flavor paired with a sweet yet strong scent. Often used in salads and dressing, this aromatic selection is also perfect for roasted potatoes, meats, and stews. For a stronger flavor, try it dried.

Rosemary is a quintessential herb for Italian cooking. It pairs beautifully with garlic and lemon and is lovely on chicken, pasta, potatoes, and sauces.

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Latin Herbs

There is nothing like salsa, beans, or rice with a few choice herbs to make it all taste authentic. Just thinking about fresh herbs sprinkled on mole or enchiladas will make your mouth water.

Cilantro balances out that kick of heat often found in Latin dishes with its cool and crisp flavor. Great when used on seafood, beef or chicken dishes and let’s not forget pico de gallo and other salsas.

Coriander is a complimentary spice that can be used in seed or powder form. The seeds come from the same plant harvested for cilantro leaves. Use in marinades, spice rubs, and soups.

The trifecta: marjoram, thyme, and oregano are a popular trio often found in Mexican and Mediterranean cooking. Combine all three herbs in a bouquet garni to incorporate maximum flavor. The bouquet garni is a blend of herbs, bundled in cheesecloth and tied together with string. It is mainly used to prepare soup, stock, casseroles, and a variety of stews.

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French Herbs

There’s a French phrase for growing herbs, “jardin potager” or “kitchen garden.” This phrase goes hand in hand with traditional French cuisine. French cuisine is known for its elaborate displays and techniques, often displaying a high appreciation for fresh grown herbs in exquisitely prepared meals.

Thyme has a mild lemon/clove flavor giving fresh flavor to anything and everything such as marinades, sauces, soups, and salads. A popular addition to dishes containing pork and poultry as well as vegetables and fruit-centered recipes.

Tarragon is the quintessential French herb with its licorice-like flavor. Tarragon goes well with chicken, fish, and egg dishes. It is most renowned for being included in Bearnaise sauce, an offshoot of the popular Hollandaise sauce.

Fines herbs in French are herbs that are finely chopped, combined, and is usually comprised of tarragon, chives, chervil, and parsley. Used in delicate dishes that require a short cooking period such as chicken, fish, and eggs. They should always be used near the end of the allotted cooking time to give the dish a little extra flavor.

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Asian Herbs

Asian cuisine is gaining popularity amongst home chefs and with good reason. Many Asian recipes infuse flavor with fresh herbs to add different profiles and depth. Combined with an array of spices, the possibilities are endless with herbs in Asian cuisine.

Lemongrass is used in Asian recipes for its unmistakable citrus flavor. It adds lemon flavor to curries, soups, and sauces.

Thai basil has an anise/black licorice flavor found where a bit of spice and color is needed in Asian dishes. The green leaves can be enjoyed fresh as a garnish or addition to a salad. They also tend to stand up to cooking better than other basil varieties and won’t wilt.

Garlic chives adds the flavor of garlic with a little less potency. Use fresh in soups and stir fries. Chop and sprinkle on top of meats, salads, or any other recipe that calls for a subtle garlic flavor. The flowers are also edible and make a lovely garnish or addition to salads.

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Mediterranean Herbs

When it comes to Mediterranean cooking my senses are heightened by thinking about all of the spices and flavors. Don’t forget lots of garlic, onion, citrus, and spice – lots of spices along with these fresh herbs!

Dill is an aromatic herb that brings flavor to variety of classic Mediterranean recipes. Great for fish, especially salmon and vegetables. Also makes a nice complement to tzatziki.

Rosemary adds bold flavor when added to meats and marinades, but don’t stop there. Rosemary can be used to enhance vegetable dishes or use an entire sprig in a soup or stew for full-on flavor infusion.

Marjoram is commonly compared to oregano but has a more mild, floral flavor. Pairs beautifully with meatballs, sausages, and salad dressings. A mild garnish for egg dishes and soups as well.

As you’re planning your garden for this season, take a look at your beloved recipes and consider growing your own herbs. Not only will they add color and fragrance all season long, but they’ll also elevate all of your culinary creations. Another bonus of growing your own herbs is that several of the highlighted varieties overlap into multiple cuisines making them versatile too!

Have more questions on how to use or grow herbs? Visit

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