I don't know about you, but during the summer I find myself mixing fresh herbs into just about everything. They're more or less available year around, but there's something about using them in the summertime that just feels, well, right. They make meals feel fresher, lighter and all around tastier.
This summer, go beyond basil and mint and branch out into some herbs that perhaps aren't used as often. Here are my five favorites.
Whether you grow them in your backyard, buy them at the farmers market, or snag them from your friend's rooftop garden, these are all wonderful for summer cooking.
Tarragon is one of my absolute favorite herbs! It's fresh and floral with a mellow licorice flavor, and works really well with chicken, seafood, vinaigrettes and salads.
You've probably used the dried version, but have you ever tried fresh oregano? It's a slightly spicy aromatic herb, with a subtle hint of sweetness. Use it anywhere you'd normally use basil or marjoram.
Dill is one of those herbs that's far more flavorful when it's used fresh. It's primarily used for its feathery leaves (although the seeds can also be used) and has a sweet aroma similar to anise.
These long, wispy herbs have a mild onion flavor and pair well with just about everything. Mix them into your eggs, add them to a salad, garnish seafood or combine them into a batch of biscuits.
5. Lemon Balm
If you have lemon balm in your garden, it's probably growing like wildfire right now. If not, keep an eye out for it the next time you're at the farmers market. It's a great way to flavor homemade ice cream and fruit salads, and the leaves can be steeped to make tea.
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(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)