Know Your Herbs, And How To Use Them Properly When Cooking | Men's Health Magazine Australia

Know Your Herbs, And How To Use Them Effectively

I’m going to let you in on a secret: cooking delicious food isn’t hard. You don’t need to perfect your knife skills or master molecular gastronomy to be able to make meals for yourself, friends and family. All you need is the confidence to pack plenty of flavour into your dishes. And for that, choosing the right herbs is key.

Along with spices, it’s herbs that can take a meal from bland to beautiful. And even better, it’ll help keep your cooking clean and healthy by removing the need to add extra salt.

As a naturopathic nutritionist, herbalist, author and Lilydale Free Range Tribe Member I’m here to offer my recommended herbs to pair with different chicken dishes so that you’ve got the know-how to make meals that are as delicious as they are healthy.

If you’re still a little uncertain, or can’t tell one bunch of greenery from another, read on. This guide will help you pick the right herbs for a range of simple dishes so that you always know what to reach for.

Roast Chicken

My go-to herbs: sage, lemon thyme, tarragon.

This classic meal needs no introduction, but there are a few tricks to make your favourite winter warmer even better. Load up your stuffing with lemon thyme—along with garlic, onion, and some citrus zest—and then chop a handful of either sage or tarragon and stir it through some butter. Rub your herbed butter all over the chicken before it goes into the oven—and, if you can, get some under the skin too—and then brush it with more every twenty minutes or so as it cooks.

Stir-Fries

My go-to herbs: coriander, Thai basil, garlic shoots.

The humble stir-fry is a go-to meal for the busy person. Throw some sliced chicken breast or thigh into a wok, add mountains of vegetables, and you’ve got a healthy dinner within fifteen minutes. But how can you take your stir-fry game to the next level?

If it’s a Thai or Vietnamese flavour you’re going for, add plenty of fresh coriander or Thai basil at the end. If you’re making a Chinese-inspired stir-fry, go for garlic shoots. But forget the concept of a garnish; garlic shoots should instead be used like a vegetable—so load up those woks!

One-Pot Dishes

My go-to herbs: flat-leaf parsley, coriander.

Really, a one-pot dish can be any number of things, but when I think of it, I think of Middle-Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean cooking. Hearty stews and tagines can be made even better by adding some finely sliced preserved lemon peel at the very end, and then topping with mountains of roughly chopped coriander and parsley.

Soups

My go-to herbs: basil, flat-leaf parsley, chives.

Like one-pot dishes, topping your soups with herbs before serving can lend a delightful lightness to an otherwise hearty dish. Finish your soup with a dollop of crème fraiche or coconut cream, then sprinkle with roughly chopped basil, parsley, or chives.

Salads 

My go-to herbs: basil, mint, dill, flat-leaf parsley, coriander

When summer comes around, salads become a staple for so many of us here in warm and sunny Australia. Add some chicken for protein, then work through plenty of light-flavoured, tender herbs. This is an area you can experiment with, as it’s pretty hard to get it wrong. I like to use herbs more like a salad green by adding loads of them, and even combining them. Dill and mint together are magical with chicken, or pair mint with coriander instead for Asian-inspired salads. Even fruit salads can be made better with a few herbs—think watermelon and mint, or strawberries and finely shredded basil.

By Mens Health Staff

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