5 Easy Ways to Use Fresh Herbs Daily (+Recipes)

I have a confession. 

I kill nearly everything I try to grow. House plants, outdoor plants, plants that require little to no water, container gardens, pre-potted veggie plants that already have multiple budding blooms. Last year’s container tomatoes ended up looking like something out of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. (That’s not an exaggeration – my neighbors and husband can attest).

One area in which I’ve put special focus is growing fresh herbs – and rightfully so. Who wants to pay $3.99 for a teeny tiny plastic box of half-dead dill? No, thanks. Having access to fresh herbs in the comfort of home has transformed how I cook. A big snip here and a little snip there and I’ve got cilantro, basil, lemon balm, oregano, dill and mint for days. 

As far as I’m concerned, making the case for eating more fresh herbs is simple – the quality and flavor speaks for itself – but incorporating leafy herbs into my family’s daily diet isn’t always intuitive. My inclination is often to reach for the spice cabinet first. This article outlines some of the ways I’ve enjoyed using our abundance of fresh herbs.

Add Fresh Herbs to Salads

Have you ever had Trader Joe’s Organic Herb Salad Mix? The fresh herbs like cilantro, dill and tarragon give every bite just a little extra oomph. Fresh herbs are typically an easy salad garnish, but why not enhance your salad base, too? Recreate the herbed salad mix concept beloved by Trader Joe’s fans by adding fresh herbs to your salad base along with leafy greens like baby spinach, spring mix and kale. 

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Substitute Fresh Herbs for Dried Herbs in Cooking

In addition to impressing dinner guests – and yourself, honestly – there is a significant difference in quality and potency between dried and fresh herbs. Every recipe is different, and you’ll want to use your best judgment but I generally follow the classic advice of a three-to-one ratio of fresh herbs to dried herbs. Unless you’re like me and just want to add all the fresh basil and dill possible … because why not? Rosemary, on the other hand, is one you’ll want to be extra careful with. I learned that one the hard way. You can also reserve some of the fresh herbs for garnish before serving your delightfully herb-forward dish.

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Make a Refreshing Herbal Drink

Whether it’s lemon and mint or grapefruit with rosemary, adding fresh herbs is a wonderful way to add flavor to your water, tea, mocktails and cocktails while reaping some of the amazing health benefits of fresh herbs. One of the easiest things I do at home is add 3-4 slices of fresh lemon (scrubbed clean, of course) and 1-2 large sprigs of clean, fresh mint to a 48-ounce pitcher of water and refrigerate for 24 hours. The result is a glass of water that tastes just a bit brighter. Fill half the glass with pure sparkling water if you’re a fan of bubbles. What a way to dress up your water!

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Use Fresh Herbs in Salad Dressings and Sauces

There’s no better way to spruce up a homemade vinaigrette than adding fresh herbs. From pesto to chimichurri sauce, the possibilities are truly endless. We’re big fans of homemade salad dressings at our house. There’s such a difference in quality and flavor and once you get into the groove it’s too easy not to keep fresh dressings on hand. Healthier ingredients, time savings, cost-effectiveness and freshness are other convincing reasons to make homemade salad dressings with fresh herbs. 

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Garnish, Garnish, Garnish

We saved the easiest for last. This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Mint on ice cream, cilantro over breakfast tacos, basil and oregano over pasta, sage on sweet potato hash, dill on everything …garnish, garnish, garnish!  If you’re eating basically anything, there’s likely a fresh herb that when sprinkled over top will add a pop of brightness and a burst of flavor. It’s a surefire way to elevate any dish.  

Try These Recipes

When it comes to cooking with fresh herbs, a little extra effort makes a major difference in flavor, freshness and nutritional value. What’s more, fresh herbs offer incredible health benefits that nourish and heal our bodies. If you’re new to cooking with fresh herbs, start small by sprinkling chopped fresh herbs on top of your meals and working your way up from there. Your body – and your tastebuds – will thank you for it!

For more recipes using fresh herbs, check out our Plant-Based Recipes section. To learn about the health benefits of fresh herbs, read our article, The Power of Fresh Herbs for Health and Healing.

*Medical Disclaimer: All content and information on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Sweet New Roots, LLC is not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this website

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