Whether you’re growing them in your own backyard or picking them up at the farmers market, fragrant fresh herbs are a healthy, inexpensive way to boost the flavor profile of any meal. From soups and salads to sauces and marinades — and even your 5 o’clock cocktail — using fresh herbs brings a lively color and taste that you just can’t get without them.
Our favorite fresh herbs to turn up the flavor include basil, cilantro, mint, rosemary, tarragon, parsley, dill, thyme and sage. Certain herbs complement one another, while some are stand-alone stars. If you’re accustomed to thinking of herbs as an afterthought (Hello sad, limp parsley garnish!), we hope these recipes will change your mind.
Fresh herbs play a starring role in this month’s recipes: There’s the minty mojito, a parsley and breadcrumb crusted salmon and a cold cucumber soup with fresh dill. Each one is infused with a different bright flavor straight from the garden.
Even if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, herbs are relatively easy to grow at home. All you need is a sunny windowsill in your kitchen and a starter kit to set up your own herb garden.
Remarkably refreshing — and dangerously drinkable — this classic Cuban cocktail is always a hit. Make one at a time or multiply the recipe to make a big batch for a party. The mix of sweet, citrus and herbaceous flavors complements the rum perfectly. These go down quickly; don’t say we didn’t warn you!
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup*
- 2 sprigs fresh mint, plus more for serving
- 2 ounces white rum
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Club soda (for serving)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle simple syrup and 2 mint sprigs, then add the rum and lime juice. Fill shaker with ice, cover and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain cocktail into a tall glass filled with ice. Top off with a splash of club soda and garnish with a mint sprig. Bottoms up!
*To make your own simple syrup, heat one cup of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Just before it starts boiling, stir in one cup of granulated sugar, reduce heat to simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the syrup cool and transfer to a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for 2–3 weeks.