In today’s fast-paced world, it can be tempting to rely on takeout or carryout meals. After all, they’re convenient, often delicious and require no time to prepare. However, every cook knows that making food at home offers a slew of benefits that dining out simply cannot. That’s the good news.

The bad? Even talented home chefs can fall into a rut, defaulting to the basics and getting stuck. If you’re tired of the same meals day after day, the answer is at your fingertips. With home-grown herbs, you open the door to a world of new flavor combinations, exciting dishes and fresh inspiration

Herbs give you a variety of options when it comes to cooking. You’re not limited to a menu — only your imagination and available ingredients. Whether you grow these seasonings or pick them up at the market or grocery store, your stomach will thank you. Popular herbs include bay leaf, basil, chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. Any of these can be used in recipes ranging from simple fruit salads to hearty vegetable side dishes to tempting main courses and even desserts.

Each herb has a unique flavor, but some seasonings pair better with certain foods than others. Be willing to experiment and make a note of how your dishes turn out. If you’re worried about trying herb combinations, start with classic pairings and evolve from there. For example, if you’re cooking with poultry, a safe and delicious choice would be tarragon with shallots and lemon juice; or go with basil, garlic and white wine vinegar.

Beef has a sturdier flavor and can handle bolder herbs such as garlic, black pepper and herbed vinegar. Another great combination is black pepper, thyme, cloves and some orange peel to add a note of citrus. If you’re cooking fish, mustard seeds, dill and lemon juice give a light but deep flavor.

For a dish with green vegetables, try marjoram, nutmeg and basil or bay leaf, dill and rice vinegar. Orange and yellow vegetables tend to have a deeper, earthier flavor, which a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and thyme can enhance. Eggs pair well with garlic, oregano and thyme, and garlic, parsley and saffron make a perfect complement to rice and bean dishes.

Don’t be afraid to come up with your own combinations as you cook! Expand your gastronomical horizons and you may find new favorites. For more ideas and inspiration, check out the accompanying resource about using herbs at home.

Infographic provided by JK Chef Collection


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