European Herbs

European Herbs
angelica
angelica
Angelica is prized for its crunchy stems, which are often candied and used to decorate baked goods. You can also use the leaves and stems to add a celery flavor to liqueurs, sauces, and vegetable side dishes.
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basil
basil
Basil is widely used in Mediterranean countries, where it flavors everything from pasta sauces to pesto, and in Southeast Asia, where it's often stir-fried with other ingredients. There are numerous varieties, ranging from the more pungent Asian basils to the sweeter and milder European varieties. Use dried basil only in a pinch--it's not nearly as flavorful as fresh.
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bay leaf
bay leaf
Bay leaves are a staple of Mediterranean cuisines, lending a woodsy flavor to sauces, stews, and grilled meats. It's best to add whole leaves, then remove them before serving the dish. The Turkish bay leaf is smaller and less potent than the California bay leaf, but more highly prized due to the complexity of its flavor. Dried leaves are a good substitute for fresh.
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borage
borage
Borage is best known for its attractive blue flowers, but Europeans sometimes use the leaves as an herb in salads and soups. Borage has a mild flavor that's been likened to that of cucumbers. The leaves are covered with prickly, throat-catching hairs, so it's best to either blanch them or chop them finely before serving them.
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chervil
chervil
This feathery green herb tastes like a subtle blend of parsley and anise. It's far more plentiful in Europe than in America. Avoid the dried version--it has very little flavor.
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chives
chives
These slender, hollow shoots have a mild onion flavor. Many cooks use scissors to cut fresh chives, sprinkling them like confetti on potatoes, eggs, and salads. Always use fresh chives--they lose much of their flavor when they're frozen or freeze-dried.
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cicely
cicely
This fern-like herb has a strong anise flavor. It's not well known in the United States, but it's popular in Scandinavia, where it's often used to flavor desserts.
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curly parsley
curly parsley
This has less flavor than Italian parsley, but it makes a terrific garnish. Don't bother buying dried parsley--it has very little flavor.
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dill leaf
dill leaf
You can find soft, feathery sprigs of dill leaves in markets throughout the year. Chopped dill is often paired with fish, cucumbers, potatoes, or it's added to dips, salad dressings, or cream sauces. Dill loses flavor when it's heated, so always add it to cooked dishes at the last minute. Avoid dried dill; it has very little flavor. And don't confuse dill leaves with dill seeds--though they come from the same plant, they're not good substitutes for one another.
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hyssop
hyssop
The leaves and small blue flowers of this plant are used as a garnish or to impart a mild, slightly bitter flavor to salads, soups, and liqueurs. Don't waste your time drying the leaves--they'll lose almost all of their flavor.
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Italian parsley
Italian parsley
This is the best parsley to use for cooking--it has more flavor than the more common curly parsley. Avoid dried parsley; it has very little flavor.
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lemon balm
lemon balm
Cooks use this herb in teas, salads, jams, and soups. The fresh leaves also make an attractive garnish.
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lemon thyme
lemon thyme
This variety of thyme has a lemony flavor.
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lemon verbena
lemon verbena
This has a strong lemon flavor that works especially well in teas and vegetable dishes. If you can't find it in the spice section, cut open lemon verbena teabags.
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lovage
lovage
Lovage tastes like celery, but it's even more pungent and flavorful. The only drawback but it can't withstand long cooking like celery can. Use it in any recipe that calls for celery, but use less and add it to cooked dishes at the last minute.
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marjoram
marjoram
Marjoram is sweeter and milder than its close relative, oregano. It's often used to season meats and fish, and works best when its added near the end of the cooking period. Fresh is best, but frozen or dried marjoram are acceptable substitutes. Don't confuse this with wild marjoram, which is better known as oregano.
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opal basil
opal basil
Opal basil has purple leaves and a longer shelf life than sweet basil, but the two can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
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oregano
oregano
Oregano is a popular herb in Mediterranean countries, where it's often used to season tomato sauces, meat dishes, and pizzas. Mexican oregano has a mintier taste than ordinary oregano. If you can't find it fresh, dried oregano is a good substitute.
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parsley
parsley
Parsley is prized both for its looks and for its fresh, grassy flavor. There are two common varieties: the mild curly parsley and the more flavorful Italian parsley. Use curly parsley if you want looks and Italian parsley if you want flavor. Parsley doesn't hold up well to cooking, so add it to cooked dishes at the very last minute. Frozen parsley is a good substitute for fresh, but dried parsley adds only color.
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rosemary
rosemary
The Italians are particularly fond of this pungent herb with its needle-like leaves. They often use it to flavor meats and tomato sauces. Rosemary stems, stripped of their leaves, can also be used as skewers for kabobs. Dried rosemary is an excellent substitute for fresh.
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sage
sage
Sage is often combined with other strong herbs to flavor meat dishes and poultry stuffings. Use it sparingly; a little goes a long way. Dried sage is an excellent substitute for fresh.
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savory
savory
This herb has a strong, peppery flavor, and it's often used in Mediterranean countries to flavor beans, mushrooms, vegetables, and meats. There are two varieties: winter savory and the milder summer savory. Winter savory is best suited to slowly cooked dishes like stews.
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summer savory
summer savory
Summer savory is milder than winter savory.
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sweet basil
sweet basil
This is widely used throughout the Mediterranean region to make tomato sauces, pesto, and other dishes.
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tarragon
tarragon
The French are especially fond of this aromatic, anise-like herb. They often use it to flavor delicately flavored foods like eggs, fish, cheese, and chicken, and it's an indispensable ingredient in sauce béarnaise and in the herb mixture the French call fines herbes. Use it sparingly--a little goes a long way. Frozen tarragon is an excellent substitute for fresh, but use the dried version only in a pinch.
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thyme
thyme
This herb is widely used in Mediterranean countries to flavor stews and meat sauces. It's often used in combination with other herbs, like rosemary, parsley, and oregano. Use dried thyme only in a pinch--fresh thyme is far more flavorful.
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winter savory
winter savory
This perennial herb has a stronger flavor than its annual relative, summer savory.
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