Fresh or dried, thyme is definitely one of our spice cupboard work horses. It's a seasoning we can use without really thinking about it, and so we often reach for it when making quick weeknight pasta sauces and roast meat.
What Is Thyme?
Most Popular Use: Soups, stews, meat, vegetables
Thyme is a low shrub native to the Mediterranean and a member of the mint family. It grows in long, thin sprigs with tiny spear-shaped green leaves. We primarily use these leaves in cooking, though the stems can be used for seasoning a soup or braise if removed before serving.
A teaspoon or so of these leaves adds a pungent, woodsy flavor to dishes. Depending on the specific variety you use (and there are over 100 of them!), we might also get flavors of lemon, mint, caraway, or even orange. Thyme is an aromatic, meaning we use it as much for its aroma as for the flavor it gives our dishes, and is one of the herbs used in a classic bouquet garni.
How To Use Thyme
Thyme is used for adding layers of flavor without being overwhelming. It's commonly used to season soups, sauces, and braises. It also makes a welcome addition in potatoes, rice dishes, vegetables and even fresh bread. And it pairs well with other Mediterranean herbs like oregano and marjoram, and is used throughout Italian, French, and of course, Mediterranean cooking.