IF YOU HAVE BOTTLES OF HERBS
sitting forgotten in your cupboard, it's time to get
reacquainted with them. Remember that dried herbs don't last
indefinitely; you should use them within a year of purchase. To
make a fresh start, take all herbs out of your pantry, open
them; close your eyes, and sniff. If you can't identify the
herb, throw it out. When shopping for replacements, stick to
sturdy, potent herbs like the ones on this page, because their
flavors hold up well to the drying process. Tender, soft herbs
like basil, cilantro, and parsley are at their best when fresh.
1. OREGANO Used widely in Italian, Greek, and
Mexican dishes. A natural in tomato sauce and on pizza.
Excellent with eggplant or olives. Add it to oil and vinegar to
dress a Greek salad.
2. THYME Used in classic Mediterranean dishes
like ratatouille and olive tapenade. Goes well with egg dishes
(particularly quiche) and carrots. Terrific with mushrooms and
in cream of vegetable soup.
3. BAY LEAVES A basic flavoring for pickles
and for boiled crab and shrimp. Use in soups, stews, and bean
dishes. Flavor the cooking water for carrots, potatoes, and
poached fish. Use leaves whole and remove them before serving.
4. ROSEMARY Often sprinkled on focaccia. Goes
well with iamb and pork dishes. Has an affinity for garlic,
lemon, and chicken. Use sparingly, because its pinelike flavor
can be overpowering.
5. MARJORAM Related to oregano, but milder and
sweeter. Delicious with peas, potatoes, onions, and zucchini.
Add it to clam chowder and poultry stuffing. Mix it with butter
to melt over chicken or fish.