How To: Pair Fresh Herbs

Don’t you love how fresh basil tastes with ripe tomatoes? Then you’re sure to enjoy all the other herb-and-produce pairings out there. The following guide tells you everything you need to know about adding fresh herb flavor to all your favorite dishes.  

Flavor notes: 
Sweet, slightly peppery; best added just before serving
Commonly used in: Pesto
Pair it with: Tomatoes (of course!), corn, eggplant, peaches, summer squash, melons, and berries
Try it in: Zucchini-Basil Soup

Flavor notes:
 A mix between garlicky and oniony; fresh and mild; best added just before serving
Commonly used in: Dips, sweet potatoes
Pair them with: All vegetables, but especially sweet potatoes, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, and mushrooms
Try them in: Sweet Potato Turkey Patties

Flavor notes: 
Distinctive, bright, and citrusy; best added just before serving
Commonly used in: Salsas, Mexican and Thai dishes
Pair it with: Beets, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes
Try it in: Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro

Flavor notes:
 Evergreen with hints of celery
Commonly used in: Pickles, borscht
Pair it with: Asparagus, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, spinach, and cabbage
Try it in:  Brussels Sprout Slaw

Flavor notes: 
Pungent and refreshing when raw, mellow and oregano-like when heated
Commonly used in: Teas and Middle Eastern salads
Pair it with: Beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, leafy greens, squash, tomatoes, and all summer fruits
Try it in: Watermelon Fruit Pizza

Flavor notes:
 Pungent, peppery, spicy; good for grilling, roasting, and simmering
Commonly used in: Tomato sauces
Pair it with: Eggplant, bell peppers, leafy greens, squash, spinach, and citrus
Try it in: Zesty Lemon Pork Chop

Flavor notes: 
Fresh with a hint of bitterness
Commonly used in: Sweet potato dishes, whole grain salads
Pair it with: All vegetables but especially salad greens and tomatoes
Try it in: The BEST Pomegranate Village Salad

Flavor notes:
 Earthy with hints of pine; good for simmering and marinades
Commonly used in: Holiday stuffings
Pair it with: Apples, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower
Try it in:  Cauliflower Stuffing

Flavor notes:
 Pungent, grassy, and anise-flavored
Commonly used in: Sauces
Pair it with: Asparagus, tomatoes, squash, peaches, pears, melons, and salad greens
Try it in: Greek Goddess Vegetable Dip

Herb-and-Produce Pairings: Basic Rules

Cooking with fresh herbs can be daunting at first. Here’s how to gain confidence in the technique while boosting the flavors of your foods.

Start small. Begin by sprinkling 1 to 2 Tbsp. of a chopped fresh herb over a simple dish (for four people) or a big plate of steamed vegetables. This amount will give you an idea of the flavor an herb imparts without overwhelming the recipe. 

Go bigger and bolder. Like what you taste? Try increasing the herb amounts. Big on flavor, you won’t miss added salt, sugars or fats. Play around with sizes as well. Tear herb leaves instead of chopping them or dust a dish with a fluffy chiffonade

Switch things up. Swapping out your herbs can completely transform a recipe. Try new herbs in place of old favorites. Sub basil for mint in a tomato salad, try tarragon in place of dill, and add cilantro in place of parsley. Enjoy!