In this third and final installment of our guide, we present some favorite herbs and spices, intended to please the palate and give your dishes a distinctive flavor.
- Mint—Chefs prefer to use this herb while fresh, although it’s also available dried and as an extract and oil. Mint offers an intensity that enhances drinks, lamb, vegetables like peas, and desserts. Of course, it pairs well with chocolate.
- Mustard—Available in seed or ground forms, this sharp spice offers a lot of versatility. Chefs use it in a variety of dishes, including dressings, sauces, roasts, and seafood.
- Oregano—This spice is a staple in Italian and Mexican cuisine and is similar to mace. You can buy it fresh or in ground form. It adds a kind of lemony flavor.
- Paprika—Long used in Nordic, Central, and Eastern European dishes, this red spice ranges from hot to sweet (Hungarian paprika, for example). It’s often used in hearty, comforting dishes, like stews, soups, roasts, and potatoes.
- Parsley—Parsley is available in several varieties and adds a freshness to any dish. Many use parsley with potatoes, fish, meats, stews, soups, and more. Chefs prefer to use fresh parsley rather than dried.
- Rosemary—Rosemary, with its strong, pine-like flavor, pairs well with meats and poultry as well as eggs, beans, and potatoes. It’s best used in small amounts, because its flavor can easily overpower a dish. It is available fresh or in dried form.
- Sage—Sage has an almost bitter taste, yet it’s flavor borders on minty and peppery at the same time. Like rosemary, it has a pine-like flavor, but it has more lemon and even eucalyptus nuances. Many chefs use sage in northern Italian cuisine and also in meat and poultry stuffing.
- Tarragon—With a flavor resembling anise, tarragon has a lemon yet licorice taste. It’s used in tomato dishes as well as with eggs, seafood, and chicken. It is also frequently used fresh in salads. Chefs rely on tarragon also for sauces and French cuisine.
- Thyme—Chefs use this herb to add to the earthiness of a dish. It has a woodsy flavor and can be used as an all-purpose seasoning. It’s available in either fresh or dried form.
Which herbs and spices are your favorites? Which can become your new favorites? We know we’ve missed a few in our brief guide, so feel free to suggest others and how you use them.