Wake up and smell your herbs.
Fresh herbs are simply wonderful. The use of fresh herbs has exploded in the American kitchen today. I recall that as a young apprentice in Italy at my aunt’s apron strings, for every herb we had in the garden there was a pot on the stove to match.
Some herbs are better to cook with, while others were better added at the end to finish a dish. For example rosemary, bay leaves, and thyme are mostly used in long cooking where their oils are extracted slowly.
Meanwhile sage, oregano, and marjoram need very little cooking time. And herbs such as basil, parsley, and mint are great to toss in at the end—just enough to release their refreshing aromas.
And if you have small children, a wonderful way to introduce them to these aromas is to gently crush the herbs in your hands and let them smell it.
I always did this with my children and grandchildren when they were very small. It’s a great way to get them excited about the world of herbs and food at an early age.
At New York’s Felidia and Becco in New York and Lidia’s Kansas City and Pittsburgh we actually do spring herb menus where all these wonderful ingredients are used.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBH 44.
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