Cooking with fresh herbs is an easy and delicious way to add flavor to your recipes. In addition, fresh herbs are nutritional powerhouses, packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. This makes them good for gut health and overall health.
Confessions from a rooftop garden…
Confession. I’ve been hanging out alot on my roof recently. My rooftop deck that is, where I have a traditional garden box (Mr. Spicy and my father-in-law made it for me), along with my new vertical garden from Lettuce Grow.
I actually get a little giddy going up there, swooning over my cherry tomatoes, plucking fresh lettuce leaves, and snipping fresh herbs.
First it was just the fresh oregano. Now it’s also basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme. and chives. Oh, and let’s not forget all the fresh rosemary growing in my front yard.
A green thumb I most certainly do not have, and not to be boastful, but growing fresh herbs seems to be a new skill I’m acquiring.
Health Benefits of Cooking with Fresh Herbs
As mentioned earlier, fresh herbs are packed with nutrition and potential health benefits. They are a rich source of polyphenols-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich plant compounds.
In addition to supporting a healthy gut microbiome, potential health benefits of polyphenols include protection against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
For the best health benefits, be sure to include a wide variety of fresh herbs in your cooking. To get you started, I’ve got 20 delicious ideas for cooking with fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon) from my dietitian friends. All of the recipes are gluten free and many of them are vegetarian or vegan. Enjoy!
Tips for Cooking & Storing Fresh Herbs
For a subtle flavor, add fresh herbs to recipes as you’re cooking. Or, for a stronger, more pronounced flavor, finish your dish off with fresh herbs after cooking.
Gently rubbing herbs between your fingers helps release oils and enhances their flavor.
If I’m going to use fresh herbs that day, or within a couple of days, I like to wash them and store them on my countertop in a glass jar with an inch of water. It looks so pretty!
For longer term storage, wrap them in a damp paper towel, then place them in a small bag in the fridge. And, for even longer term storage, you can freeze them in oil!
Easy Ways to Flavor Food with Fresh Herbs
- Toss a variety of fresh herbs into salads.
- Finish off your favorite pasta dish with fresh herbs.
- Blend ’em into a smoothie.
- Add them to my favorite scrambled eggs in a jar, or scrambled tofu.
- Sprinkle fresh herbs on top of roasted or sauted veggies.
- On top of pizza!!!
Cooking with Fresh Herbs | 20 Healthy and Delicious Recipes!
Rosemary Parmesan Quinoa Polenta Fries
These quinoa polenta fries with Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary are so easy to make! Serve w/ rotisserie chicken and salad for an easy weeknight family dinner.
Asparagus Salad w/ Mint Tarragon Dressing
This delicious asparagus salad makes the most out of fresh tarragon and mint! It’s packed with flavor and can be served as a side to so many different meals.
Easy Pasta Salad with Basil, Ricotta, & Pine Nuts
This gluten free pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, peppery basil, and fresh, creamy ricotta cheese is a delicious solution when you need a quick and easy weeknight dinner everyone will love!
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Pistachio Pesto
This pistachio pesto works wonders on roasted or grilled veggies, grilled chicken or beef, and seafood … and it features two herbs: basil and tarragon.
Cilantro Pesto Soba Noodle Bowl w/ Tofu and Broccoli
Vegan cilantro pesto soba noodle bowl with seared tofu and broccolini! You’ll want to put this cilantro-pepita pesto on EVERYTHING! Freeze extra cilantro pesto for another meal.
Fresh & Easy Quinoa Tabbouleh
You can whip up a batch of this fresh and easy quinoa tabbouleh with mint and parsley in 20 minutes! Enjoy it for dinner with your favorite sides, then save the leftovers for lunch the next day. It’s nourishing AND delicious!
Mango Lime Quinoa Salad
This lime and mango quinoa salad with fresh cilantro is a refreshing cold summer quinoa salad full of fruits and vegetables. Perfect for any cookout or barbecue.
Fattoush Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette
Fattoush Salad is a flavorful combination of pita, vegetables, and fresh herbs. This gluten free version features grilled chicken, parsley and a delicious Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette.
Quinoa Veggie Confetti Salad
This Quinoa Salad combines a mix of sweet and savory flavors including dried fruit, mint, parsley, veggies and nuts. You can enjoy this dish as a side or make it a main by adding your favorite protein or beans.
Tofu Bahn Mi Lettuce Wraps
These tofu bahn mi lettuce wraps with fresh herbs (cilantro and mint), combine all of the classic flavors you love with the fun summery twist of being served in fresh lettuce cups.
Gluten Free Breakfast Casserole
This gluten free breakfast casserole with veggies, fresh oregano, & Gruyere cheese is some of the yummiest, healthy comfort food you’ll ever eat. Bold statement I know, but true!
Baked Salmon and Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce
This fast and easy baked salmon with lemon mustard dill sauce recipe makes a great healthy weeknight meal – or a delicious dish to impress guests!
The BEST Vegan Avocado Toast
This Vegan Avocado Toast topped w/ Rosemary Mushroom Lentils is SO good! It’s also gluten free, and my new favorite “go to” for a quick and easy protein powered plant based breakfast or lunch.
Vegetarian Chopped Salad with Eggs
This chopped salad features hard boiled eggs, chopped vegetables, and fresh parsley. It might just be the best chopped salad you’ve ever had!
Fiesta Corn and Avocado Salad
This Fiesta Corn and Avocado Salad is a vibrantly colored, healthy summer recipe that is made with fresh cilantro. Serve it as a side dish at your next BBQ!
Mediterranean Grain Bowl with Avocado Tzatziki
This healthy grain bowls is perfect for a family friendly vegetarian dinner. Add your favorite Mediterranean inspired toppings, fresh dill, and drizzle the yummiest Avocado Tzatziki on top for a quick and easy meal!
Chipotle Inspired Vegan Burrito Bowl
This Chipotle inspired vegan burrito bowl is bursting with spices and flavor (fresh cilantro) and is more delicious (and easier on the wallet!) than take-out!
Spicy Lentil Salad with Avocado and Fresh Herbs
Lentil salad with avocado is an amazingly delicious salad infused with eastern flavors and fresh herbs including parsley, cilantro, and mint. It is packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and robust nutrients!
Strawberry Lemon Tarragon Sauce
This easy sauce recipe featuring strawberries, lemon juice, and fresh tarragon, is bursting with flavor! Drizzle it on top of yogurt or waffles,. You can even stir it into your favorite cocktail. So delicious!
Strawberry Basil Kombucha Cocktail
A gorgeous, vibrant, and healthy(ish) vodka cocktail (or make it a mocktail!) featuring zesty kombucha, strawberries, and fresh basil. Cheers!
Before you go, here are some more delicious flavor pairings for cooking with fresh herbs!
- Basil + Chiles + Cilantro + Garlic + Lime + Mint
- Cilantro + Garlic + GInger + Rice Vinegar + Sesame Oil + Soy Sauce
- Dill + Garlic + Ginger + Green Pepper + Lemon
- Mint + Balsamic Vinegar + Peaches + Ricotta Cheese
- Oregano + Lemon + Beans + Zucchini + Feta Cheese
- Parsley + Garlic + Lemon + Mint + Olive Oil + Walnuts
- Rosemary + Balsamic Vinegar + Shallots + Thyme
- Tarragon + Asparagus + Lemon + Olive OIl + White Wine Vinegar