Did you know Monday, August 29th, is National More Herbs, Less Salt Day? The internet says this is true, so it must be so.
So to celebrate, let’s do a little round up of some common herbs and how you can use them to replace salt on August 29 (or any day!)
- Rosemary (Far left above) If you ever thought the leaves of rosemary looked like that of an evergreen tree, you weren’t far off. Rosemary is from the same family as evergreens. Easy to grow, it does well in cool climates, and is fine without water for long periods of time. It is often used in Italian cuisine, either dried or fresh, as well as for flavoring roasted meats. Store the stems in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but in the vegetable bin and they’ll last two weeks. Try it tonight on grilled fish.
- Sage (Second from left above) Sage not only can be grown as a nice herb in a small garden plot, but it is often used as an ornamental plant too. Sage is most often used in Southern European and Middle Eastern countries, but also commonly found in British cuisine. It’s often roasted with meat (like chicken saltimbocca or in stuffing). Wrap it in a damp towel and keep it in the fridge for up to 14 days. When you’re feeling like fall, try it with some chicken.
- Basil (Middle above) With over 60 varieties, some species are stronger than others, but each type smells a little like anise. Basil is commonly used in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Cooking basil destroys the flavor and causes the leaves to turn black, so it’s best to use fresh basil and throw it in after the dish is finished. If you find yourself with an abundance of basil, puree it with some olive oil and nuts for pesto and freeze it. This is a much better way to use basil when it is out of season, then using dried basil. Keep the basil leaves in water, changing it when the water gets cloudy, with plastic wrap over it in the refrigerator and the leaves may last up to 5 days. While there’s near-endless possibilities for basil, try it with some fresh tomatoes tonight.
- Cilantro (also known as Chinese parsley!) This is a versatile plant; you can use all parts of it; the seeds are often dried and ground to create coriander for Indian and Southeastern Asian cuisine; the stems and leaves are used often in Mexican food. Some people perceive cilantro as tasting soapy – it’s not that the plant has gone bad, but there are some genes that don’t taste cilantro as though the rest of us who enjoy it. Best used fresh (since cooking it causes a loss of flavor and freezing or drying loses the aroma), you can store it a glass of water, upright, with plastic over it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Make a southwest salad tonight with it.
- Mint (Far right above) If you need to fill up a garden or flower bed, plant a little mint and watch it take off (some varieties are actually considered invasive)! Very unlike the mint flavoring you may think of in candy or gum, it has a mild sweet taste with a slight cool aftertaste. It is most commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine and fresh is preferred to dried. Store it similar to basil and cilantro and you can keep it in your fridge for 10 days. Try some in a mojito or add it some fresh peas.
- Parsley (not pictured) Widely used in American, Middle Eastern, and European cuisine, you may recognize it as a garnish, but the flat-leaf variety is actually very good in recipes too. You can store parsley wrapped in a damp towel and in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for a month or more. Need a new side dish for summer cookouts? Try parsley in tabbouleh.
- Thyme (not pictured) Although fresh is superior to dried, getting the tiny leaves separated from the woody stem, which you do not want to eat, can be time consuming. So dried can typically be substituted for fresh without much compromising. You’ll find it mostly used in eastern Mediterranean cooking. Store it up to 10 days in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp towel and in plastic. Try it in a burger tonight.
How do you plan to celebrate More Herbs, Less Salt Day? Leave us a picture on Facebook!