The Superb Herb: A Foodie’s Guide to the Perfect Herb Pairings

Foodies love to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen, and one way to spice up an old favorite is to add herbs. It can often be difficult to play matchmaker with herbs and food because herbs have strong preferences toward certain dishes. Before you begin to experiment, try these traditional pairings to get to know the flavors of each herb in their time-honored ways. After that, guide yourself with creativity and taste.

Basil The options are unlimited for this universally beloved herb. It pairs well with bread, cheese, eggs, beef, poultry, pork, lamb, fish, vegetables, pasta, soups, sauces, and even fruits. Get creative with your next fruit salad, and dress it with citrus and basil for a zesty twist.

Bay Leaf This is usually used in stews, sauces, and gravies and will pair best with beef, poultry, fish, pasta, soups, and sauces. It is best to let the leaf simmer in your dish while cooking, but remove before serving.

Chives This tiny onion is mild in flavor and goes best with bread, eggs, lamb, fish, vegetables, soups, and sauces. Use this as a garnish for your potato dishes, or create a savory chive butter sauce for your next pasta dish.

Cilantro Avocados are this herb’s biggest fans, but it can add an extra kick to Asian dishes, as well. It pairs best with poultry, vegetables, soups, and sauces. Try this herb in your next stir-fry dish.

Dill Typically added to potato salads or marinades. Whisk it together with mustard, oil, sugar, salt, and cider vinegar to add extra flavor to any beef, lamb, fish, or vegetable dish. It can be sprinkled into scrambled eggs, as well.

Oregano Oregano goes well in dishes using bread, eggs, lamb, poultry, fish, vegetables, pasta, soups, and sauces, mainly of Greek origin. Try using this chopped herb in vinaigrette to top off a classic Greek salad.

Parsley This universal herb pairs well with everything but desserts and fruit. Garnish your salads, soups, pastas, and entrees with it – anything goes!

Rosemary This Mediterranean herb goes nicely in most dishes that do not involve cheese or sweets. Stuff it into a chicken with garlic and lemon, then roast.

Sage Sage has a peppery flavor, which tastes best with cheese, beef, poultry, lamb, fish, vegetables, soups, and sauces. Try adding it to alfredo sauce or rubbing it on pork with added salt and olive oil.

Thyme This pairs best with savory breads, cheeses, eggs, poultry, pork, fish, vegetables, soups, and sauces. Make an easy side dish by cooking rice in chicken broth and adding butter, lemon, and thyme.

Danielle DiCristofano is a sophomore at the University of Dayton majoring in dietetics. She plans to become a registered dietitian and work for a health magazine.

Photo Credit: Nicole Hayashi

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