Any chef will attest to the fact that the right combination of herbs can elevate an average dish into realms of the sublime.
But do you know your chervil from your chives? Brush up on your knowledge with this beginners guide to kitchen herbs.
Rosemary is an ever-green herb, so is fresh all year round. It has an intense aroma that is well suited for meats such as lamb and chicken. Rosemary is also delicious in rich, flavoursome stews, or added as a sprig to roasted Mediterranean vegetables.
Coriander has a very distinctive, strong flavour that for some people is abhorrent. While this herb tends to be most associated with Asian cuisine, it also has powerful medicinal properties. It is used especially to improve the appearance of skin.
Dill has flavour notes similar to that of fennel or aniseed. It is a popular accompaniment to fish, especially salmon in the form of gravlax. Traditionally, dill would be used to soothe digestive disorders and is a powerful cure for the common cold.
Parsley features a lot in traditional British cuisine and has a fresh, yet pungent taste. It is extremely versatile and can be used in sauces, salads and as a flavour enhancer for meat and fish dishes. Added to that, it is a powerful cleanser for the kidneys.
Basil has a truly wonderful aroma that is both sweet and aromatic. It provides dishes with a deliciously fragrant flavour that is synonymous with Mediterranean cooking. Basil leaves can be scattered on to salads whole, or roughly chopped as a perfect accompaniment to fresh summery dishes.
Thyme is a hardy ever-green herb that can withstand long cooking times and so sprigs are often laid over roasting meat. It provides a sweet, earthy flavour and is popular in Mediterranean dishes. It is also a popular oil for its powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Chervil is sometimes referred to as French parsley and is similar in appearance, although it has finer leaves. It is a staple within French cuisine and has a delicate aniseed flavour. It is also commonly consumed as a tea to aid with digestion.
Oregano has a woody, fragrant taste and is the ultimate accompaniment to tomatoes, often used to flavour margarita pizzas. It was also used by the ancient Greeks (including Hippocrates) as an antiseptic.
Mint is one of the best loved and widely used herbs available. There is no end to the ways in which it is incorporated into our diets; from chocolate, to sauces for meat. The health benefits are equally impressive, ranging from its effectiveness at calming the digestive tract to being a cure for depression.
Bay leaves grow on trees and are roughly the length of an adult finger. They are commonly used in stocks and stews to add depth of flavour and are removed after cooking.