Add flavor—hold the fat—with my 5 favorite fresh herbs

By: Carolyn Malcoun  |  Thursday, May 14, 2009
One of my favorite things about warmer weather are the garden-fresh herbs I plant in enormous pots that line my porch and walkway. I love that I can pluck some basil to make pesto whenever I feel inspired. Or snip some cilantro to garnish a Mexican dish or mix up a mojito with a sprig of mint. The best part? Fresh herbs add a lot of flavor with barely any calories and absolutely no fat. Get great recipes and tips for how to use other herbs, such as lemon verbena, marjoram and sage in EatingWell’s Guide to Fresh Herbs. Here are 5 of my favorite herbs to cook with.
  1. Basil: No other herb epitomizes the taste of summer like basil. In Penne with Vodka Sauce & Capicola, a sprinkling of fresh, fragrant basil is the perfect foil to the velvety tomato sauce spiked with a few shots of vodka.
  2. Cilantro: The pungent flavor and aroma of cilantro is popular in many ethnic cuisines, including Mexican and Vietnamese. Make some of our favorite recipes starring cilantro, like Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto and Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette.
  3. Lavender: Fresh or dried blossoms impart a delicate perfume to both savory and sweet dishes. In Honey-Lavender Plum Gratin, we infuse milk with lavender buds to perfume the honey-sweetened custard, creating an unusual, lovely backdrop for juicy plums.
  4. Mint: A hardy perennial, mint has a reputation for taking over gardens, but considering its culinary uses, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Find great recipes for mint, such as fresh-tasting Lemon-Mint Snap Peas & Lima Beans.
  5. Thyme: Best known as a background flavoring for stews and soups, thyme is one of the most versatile herbs. Let it shine in dozens of great dishes, such as Thyme- & Sesame-Crusted Pacific Halibut.