Preparing Unique Meals: Utilizing 25 Essential Herbs

The seasoning in most five-star recipes consists of fresh and dried culinary herbs and their essential oils. The herbs accentuate the base taste of the dish itself by adding a touch of exotic and delicious flavor. Experienced cooks never forget to add the spices to make a unique recipe. Fresh foods with added spices make exceptional meals. As the beginner starts adding more fresh herbs and spices to their nightly meals, more family members and friends will become impressed with an increase in your culinary skills.

Alfalfa: Alfalfa, a nutritional and flavorful herb,  It has a fresh, grassy and palatable texture. Alfalfa can be easily wild-crafted. Try to purchase non-GMO, organic seeds or plants to avoid overt exposure to pesticides.

Alkanet: Alkanet flowers grow in the wild by roads. It is primarily used for its medicinal purposes; however, it can also serve as a red food coloring in wine, confections, sausage casings and shortening. 

Barberry: Barberries were used in the stocking of winter larder in the past. They can be used as dried sweetmeats and in sugar plums. Barberries can be pickled with vinegar for other culinary purposes.

Bay leaf: Bay leaves can be used whole or crushed before cooking in many recipes. Crushed bay leaves will add more fragrance and flavor to dishes than whole bay leaves; however, most cooks will use a muslin bag in order to avoid the difficulty of removing the crushed bay leaves from the main meal. Ground bay laurel does not need to removed from dishes.

Bergamot: Earl Gray Tea is a combination of black tea and bergamot essential oil. It is popular in Great Britain and the United States. Bergamot oil has a sweet-sour aroma that gives the tea a unique flavor.

Boldo: The Boldo plant may be used for culinary purposes. In fact, many places in Latin America use it to make an herbal tea.

Borage: Borage flowers can be added to salads, punches, and various desserts. The leaves carry a light cucumber-esque taste. It should be cooked like spinach or added to various bean and pea soups. Use borage leaves with fish or dip the leaves into batter and then fry them until crispy. Borage leaves are also great for sandwich fillings.

Black Cardamom: Black cardamom pods are often used in chowders, marinades, and casseroles.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg is primarily used as a spice in various dishes. For instance, in Penang cuisine, shredded nutmeg rind with a sugar coating are used as toppings on a unique dish of Penang origin. Nutmeg rind is also blended or boiled to make a nutmeg juice.

Calendula: Calendula leaves can be used in fresh salads or may add color to cheese. It can be used as a replacement for saffron to make yellow rice.

Camphor Laurel: Camphor laurel can be used as an ingredient for sweets, such as confections that paralleled ice cream of ancient China, some countries use it in the preparation of meats.

Caraway seeds: Caraway seeds hold their flavor for months if stored in airtight containers away from sunlight. Add seeds after cooking a specific dish and then allow them to simmer for added flavor. European countries add caraway seeds to counteract the fattiness within pork, duck, and goose.

Carob: Carob powder can be used as a chocolate, cocoa, or sugar substitute in recipes. Use the same amount of carob as you would use with cocoa powder. Use approximately three tablespoons of carob powder for each square of chocolate that recipe calls for.

Catnip: Catnip was used as far back as the 13th century. Catnip leaves were used to rub meats before cooking. They were also chopped and tossed into salads, soups, stews, and other hearty sauces.

Cassia: Cassia is primarily used in strong, spicy dishes. Cassia and cinnamon are often used interchangeably. In fact, some actually sell cassia in replacement for cinnamon. Cassia is often used in stewed fruits, such as apples. It is also used in curries and meat dishes with an added spiciness to it.

Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is often used as a spice in cooking dishes or as a table condiment. Cayenne Pepper is generally used to enliven seafood, such as oysters, salmon, sardines, mussels, crab, lobster and scallops. It can be sprinkled over soups and chowders. It is also good with roasted, grilled, and fried meats.

Celery Seed: Celery seed has only been used as a culinary ingredient since the 17 th century. The Romans and Greeks avoided celery seeds since they were commonly associated with funerals and graveyards, which gave them a bad name. 

Chervil: Chervil leaves can be incorporated in seafood, egg platters, soups and stews, and various sauces. Chervil leaves are essential in tabbouleh and perfect as an ingredient in a warm potato salad dish. Chervil will intensify the flavor of other herbs present in the dish.

Chicory: Raw chicory can be added to salads in order to add extra taste and color. Chicory ranges in many different types of color. Chicory is an Italian native with red-leaved chicory plants, also known as radicchio.

Dill Seed: Dill seed can be used in many different spreads and salads, including tuna, mock-tuna, and potato, vegetables, soups and stews, and pickling mixes.

Elderflower: Elderflowers are often used to make elderflower cordial, wine, vinegar and champagne. Elderflower vinegar is often used as a salad dressing. Gooseberry jelly, elderflower and polenta cake, and elderflower fritters are popular dishes.

Fennel Seed: Fennel seeds are prominently found in Mediterranean cuisine. Dishes include raw and cooked bulbs in side dishes, pastas, salads, risottos and vegetable dishes. Fennel seeds are commonly found in Italian sausages, meatballs, and rye breads.

Galangal: Galangal rhizomes are used as a spice and flavoring ingredient in vinegar and liqueur. Galangal is used as a spice in Lithuania and Estonia.

Garlic chives: Garlic chives are often used to make dumplings when combined with eggs, shrimp and pork. Additionally, garlic chives are included in Chinese jiaozi dumplings and other Asian derivations. The flowers are also used as a spice. The leaves of garlic chives can also be used cut into pieces and tossed into a vegetable broth with pork kidneys.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is often found in the pantries of every residential home across the world. It is one of the world's most popular spices for baked goods, such as cookies, cinnamon buns, breads, and pies. Cinnamon can also be added to sweet potato and acorn squash for added an zip. Additionally, cinnamon is often added to oatmeal, cereals, and other dishes.