Gastronomy Files: Herbs

Arugula is a pungent, peppery green – a flavorful add to any salad mix. It’s delicious as a garnish on eggs or pasta, or as a bed for tuna, potato or pasta salad.

Basil comes in a surprising number of varieties. Opal basil has a deep purple color that looks gorgeous in herb vinegars and pesto.


Cilantro is also known as fresh coriander or Chinese parsley, boasting robust flavors of sage and citrus. Often found in Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines, cilantro is the perfect garnish for tacos, chili, ceviche, and bean dishes.

Mint’s cool, refreshing flavor is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Try it in tabbouleh and falafel. Indian cooks use mint in cooling sauces to curb the heat of spicy foods, and of course it is delicious in deserts. Steep mint for a therapeutic tea, or use as a beautiful garnish. Mint has been used throughout history as an herbal remedy to ease digestive distress and nausea, as well as for curbing morning sickness.

Oregano is the workhorse of herbs, seen in Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine. Its flavor has hints of clove and balsam, pairing beautifully with tomato, beef, poultry and in salad dressings and vegetable dishes.

Rosemary has the assertive flavor of pine, which flatters many foods. Add sprigs of rosemary to barbecue coals and snip it into marinades. Add it to turkey stuffing, roast it alongside new potatoes, or everyone loves a lemon rosemary roast chicken. Fans of Mediterranean food are drawn to the flavor, and it has been thought to combat heart disease and cancer.

The scent of fresh sage will remind you of the woods on a warm day. Traditional to turkey stuffings and sausages, sage is a natural salt substitute. Enjoy it with fresh vegetables and in sauces, breads and stock. Supplement boring jarred red sauce (assuming you have to use it) with minced sage. Steep for a punchy sage tea. Storage: Store in an unsealed plastic bag in the crisper for 3-5 days