Cilantro

Cilantro is a herb known for flavoring salsas from tex-mex to authentic Latino dishes.  Try out this Pico De Gallo recipe or make up your own variation of hot peppers, cumin and green bell pepper.

  1.  Something to remember about Cilantro is that a small portion of the population has a genetic trait that causes cilantro to taste like soap rather than its wonderful robust flavor.  Keep that in mind when someone tries your pico de gallo and makes a face.
  2. Drying cilantro is trickier than most herbs, and is typically not as tasty as fresh.  It cannot be air dried.  It will become limp, and lose its flavor, but never dry out completely.  Instead spread it on a parchment/cookie sheet and set your oven to its lowest setting.  Keep the door cracked open and let the heat from the oven and circulating air from the crack in the door dry it out.  Feel it every once in awhile to see if it is crisp like paper.  When it is, take it out and crumble it off its stalks.  Remove the stalks by hand or put it through a large-holed sieve or colander.  Place in airtight container and keep out of direct sunlight.

Oregano

  1. Store fresh oregano in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  If you place a damp paper towel in the bag with the fresh oregano and leave some air in the bag, it may extend the life up to one week.  You can also extend the life of fresh cut oregano by storing whole stems with leaves in a glass of water and a plastic bag loosely tented over the glass.
  2. Fresh oregano may be frozen.  Wash and dry oregano sprigs. Strip whole leaves from the stems and place in a plastic bag loosely without crushing, but remove all air.  Keep in a location where it will not get crushed.  Freeze.  No need to thaw before using.
  3. To dry oregano, tie sprigs into a bunch and hang in a cool dark place with good ventilation.  Once dried, seal tightly and store away from sunlight.
  4. Oregano goes well in just about any tomato dish.  It also complements meats and vegetables with dominant flavors such as chili, spaghetti sauce, pizza, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and lamb.
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon dried.
  6. Try grouprecipes.com recipes for Cheesy Oregano Chicken Rolls and Orange-Oregano Dressing.

Sage

  1. Deep-fry the leaves and serve as an appetizer, or use as a garnish for poultry, meat dishes, or pasta.  Try Fried Sage Leaves and Oven Fries with Crisp Sage Leaves from our Phocas Farms Recipe section.
  2. Lay two sage leaves over a long slice of sweet potato and wrap with a slice or prosciutto or bacon.  Roast for 20 minutes or so with some olive oil.
  3. Roast butternut squash on a thick bed of sage.
  4. Take half a chicken breast, place 2 or 3 sage leaves on top, wrap in bacon or prosciutto, pack in foil, bake at 350 degrees.
  5. Freeze in ice cubes for summer drinks.
  6. Sage tea is a great remedy for sore throat.
  7. Make orange sage marinade: Blend together 1/4 cup unsweetened orange juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 cup Dijon mustard in a large bowl.  Then, marinade up to 3 pounds of boneless chicken or pork pieces in the mix for 1 – 3 hours before grilling or broiling them.
  8. Season baked chicken: Lightly coat a whole chicken or chicken pieces with oil or melted butter.  Then, sprinkle on chopped fresh sage, rosemary and marjoram with salt and pepper to suit your taste before baking the chicken.
  9. Sage Sausage Patties, and Apple Sage Chutney are recipes you’ll want to try.

Parsley

Parsley is a peppery but subtle flavored herb.  It is used in many dishes from Europe and North America.  Also, it is used as the salty “bitter” herb in the traditional Seder meal.

  1. Parsley is good for digestion and to freshen your breath after eating garlic or spicy foods.
  2. Try these recipes using fresh parsley: Garlic and Herb Pasta, Herbed Croutons.
  3. Flat leafed Italian Parsley and regular parsley can be interchanged in recipes.  More on the difference can be found here.

Basil

Basil, a well known and loved herb commonly used in Italian dishes.

  1. Basil stimulates the appetite and helps curb flatulence, perhaps the reason why it works so well with garlic.  Try basil tea to reduce nausea or distress from bloating.
  2. For the most intense flavor, basil should be added at the end of the cooking process.  Prolonged heat will cause basil’s volatile oils to dissipate.
  3. When substituting fresh basil for dried, triple the amount.
  4. Basil doesn’t like to be refrigerated.  It will last the longest placed in a vase of water on your kitchen counter.
  5. You might want to try Summertime Bruschetta for an appetizer or salad accompaniment.