Since ancient times, people have known the power of spices and herbs. They were used to both make food tastier and to produce health benefits. Herbs and spices are almighty – they have the power to change the taste of every single meal.
Cooking with herbs and spices is easy and fun, as long as you are able to recognize the specific scents and tastes. Having an idea about the types of spices that combine well with other ingredients is important.
Another very important aspect of cooking with herbs and spices is adding just the right amount. Too little will have almost no effect while adding too much spice can make your meal inedible.
Many people limited their spice and herb addition to pepper or chili sauce. The options are so many more. Basil, oregano, thyme and a number of other aromatic plants can turn each meal into a culinary masterpiece.
Spices are usually derived from the bark of trees, stems of plants, leaves or flowering parts. If dried and preserved properly, herbs and spices can maintain their taste and scent over a long period of time. Apart from adding taste to meals, most herbs are rich in antioxidants – a health benefit not to be underestimated.
In most instances, herbs are added towards the end of the cooking process, so that their scent and taste remains strong. When it comes to the addition of fresh herbs (like parsley, for example), the addition can happen right before the meal is taken off the source of the heat.
Keep in mind that you should use a small number of spices. Including too many powerful scents will ruin your meal. Select one leading herb or spice and add several secondary scents to complement it. For example, oregano goes well with thyme. Cumin is best used on its own because of the very strong and specific scent.
Some stores offer for sale spice combinations for grilling, vegetable dishes, salads, etc. These can be useful, if you lack an idea about mixing spices yourself.
If you want to achieve better results, you can slightly bake some spices in a hot pan before adding them to the meal. The heat will intensify their scent and taste. Garlic can be fried slightly – its taste will become much more intense and splendid.
You should also have a general idea about the types of herbs to use in specific meals. Tomato and pasta sauces go well with basil.
Dill is a good addition to fish meals and to some salads.
Mint is one of the herbs that have very strong and specific scent. It can be used to finely complement the taste of meats and fish. Mint is used in salads and the preparation of numerous sauces.
Oregano is one of the most popular spices in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. You can almost never taste a pizza that has no oregano in it. It can also be added to tomato sauces and meat dishes.
Parsley is a universal spice. It can be added to nearly each meal. Fresh parsley is an excellent addition to salads.
A combination of rosemary, thyme and garlic can be used to spice up all types of stewed meats. Thyme is often used in French cuisine, soups and sauces.