Slide show: Guide to herbs and spices
What's the difference between herbs and spices?
Herbs are fragrant leaves of plants that grow in temperate climates. Herbs, such as thyme, can be used fresh or dried. Spices are seeds, fruits, roots, buds, stems or bark of plants and trees. They're typically dried.
Herbs and spices can boost flavor and lessen the need for salt in many recipes. Some herbs and spices may even provide health benefits because they're good sources of antioxidants.
Cumin seeds are available either whole or ground. Cumin has a sharp and almost nutty flavor. Toasting cumin seeds in a dry skillet will enhance their flavor.
Cumin is a key ingredient in Indian spice blends and pairs well with chickpeas, rice and vegetables. It can also be used as a rub for grilled meats, poultry and seafood.
Paprika is made from ground sweet red peppers. Paprika's flavor may be mild, hot or smoky, depending on the variety. It's traditionally used in goulash but also works with eggs, potatoes, chicken and fish.
Saffron is derived from a flower and is sold as threads or powder. Saffron lends a golden color to foods, such as paella, a traditional Spanish dish. Saffron pairs well with seafood and poultry. It can also be added to baked goods, such as bread, rolls and cookies.
Turmeric is made from an underground stem that resembles ginger root. It has a warm, earthy flavor. Turmeric is the spice that gives curried dishes their yellow color. It works well with chicken, fish, vegetables, lentils and rice.
Basil has a slightly sweet aroma. It's used fresh or dried. Several varieties of basil are available. Each has its own flavor profile. For example, lemon basil is slightly sour. Thai basil tastes more like licorice.
Basil pairs well with garlic, tomatoes and olives. Basil is the key component in pesto. It also works in soups, salads and curries.
Fresh dill is used as an herb. Its seeds are dried and used as a spice. Dill has many uses beyond pickling. Its flavor complements salmon and other seafood, eggs, beans, creamy dishes, salads, and vegetables.
Oregano is related to marjoram but has a stronger peppery flavor. Oregano is typically used in its dry form. To release its flavor, crush dried oregano either by hand or with a mortar and pestle.
Oregano is familiar to fans of pizza and other Italian fare. It's also a popular seasoning for fish, beef, poultry and a variety of vegetables.
Rosemary has a strong woody flavor and can be used fresh or dried. It's often paired with grilled or roasted poultry, meat and vegetables. Rosemary can make a surprise appearance in desserts, too. It works well with citrus and honey.
Last Updated Sep 21, 2021