Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Spring is just around the corner (almost!) and cooking with fresh herbs adds flavor to your recipes, while often adding desirable health properties too. I love to incorporate fresh herbs into my recipes.

For a great recipe to get you started using fresh herbs, I am posting my Arugula and Fresh Herb Pasta Salad below this blog!

Incorporating fresh herbs into your recipes enables you to create delicious meals, and nothing beats fresh herbs for adding pizzazz to salads, pastas, sandwiches, beverages, soups and so much more!

In many recipes you can substitute chopped, fresh herbs for dried. Because dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh, increase the amount; in general, use three times as much as the amount of dried herbs called for. (Example: 1 teaspoon dried basil = 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil.)





Snipping fresh chives with kitchen shears into small pieces is a great way to jazz up salads, stir fries and soups!



I particularly love cooking with fresh basil. It adds zing to so many recipes. Use it instead of lettuce in sandwiches and wraps. Add it to pasta sauces, savory baked goods, chilled soups and seasonal salads. You can make a quick salad by cutting cherry or grape tomatoes in half, adding fresh chopped basil, fresh chopped garlic, a bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Toss well and serve!

The best way to chop large leaved fresh herbs (like basil or sage) is to stack up 6 to 10 leaves on your cutting board, and then roll them up tightly like a cigar. Then you can easily cut across the leaves making chiffonade style strips that are ready to add to your recipes in a jiffy.



Basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint are typically available at supermarkets and farm stands.





It’s best to use fresh herbs shortly after you purchase them. If you won’t be using them right away, wrap them loosely in a paper towel and store them in a spacious container or plastic bag in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator. Don’t wash and chop the herbs until you’re ready to use them.



If you purchase a large bunch of herbs that still has the roots attached, you can store it in water, just like fresh flowers. First rinse the roots briefly, give them a fresh cut, then place the herbs in a vase or glass of water and keep them on your kitchen counter. That way you can easily grab a few leaves as you cook.


SAGE (with Parsley and Thyme)

So, try creating your own signature flavorings by combining the herbs that you prefer. It’s the easiest way to jazz up your plant-based recipes, resulting in delicious, personalized creations that you, your friends and your family will savor. Give it a try and you’ll be glad you did.


My Top Ten Favorite Fresh Herbs:

Basil (all varieties including; Genovese, Lemon, Thai, Cinnamon and Purple, to name a few)


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Arugula and Fresh Herb Pasta Salad


This supremely fresh-tasting pasta salad makes perfect luncheon or light supper fare. The steaming hot pasta cooks the tomatoes just enough to ensure that they’re bursting with flavor. I love to make this for company because most of the prep can be done beforehand and the colorful combination of tomatoes, arugula, artichoke hearts and fresh herbs makes for an attractive presentation.

1 pound rotini, penne or your favorite pasta variety

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

10 to 15 leaves fresh basil, very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Several grinds freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 bunch arugula (about 4 ounces), cleaned and stemmed

1 jar (6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rotini. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm.

Meanwhile, put the tomatoes, basil, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl large enough to also accommodate the cooked rotini. Stir gently until well combined. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the oil and stir gently until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Coarsely chop the arugula and put it on top of the tomato mixture. Chop the artichoke hearts and put them in a small bowl. (See note.)

Drain the rotini well and, while it is still piping hot, pour it over the tomato mixture. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil (plus, more as desired) and toss gently until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the artichoke hearts. Serve immediately.

NOTE: The tomato mixture and artichokes may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance. Just store them separately in covered bowls in the refrigerator.


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