13 Fresh Herbs and How to Use Them

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2. Mint

Characteristics: In the United States, the two most widely available varieties of mint are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint has a strong, cooling aftertaste due to the high concentration of menthol; spearmint is lighter and sweeter to the palate. Lesser-known types of mint include ginger, apple, and curly mint, which, when used in large quantities, impart the flavor that is connected to its name. Mint is a common ingredient in Thai food like rolls, as well as in Middle Eastern dishes such as tabbouleh, and in traditional mint tea from North Africa. It’s not unusual to see mint paired with lamb or chocolate; other popular uses for the herb are jellies, sauces and cocktails such as the Mint Julep and Mojito.

What does mint look like? Both mint and spearmint have rough-fuzzy, jagged, green leaves.

3. Parsley

Alternate Names: Curly parsley, flat-leafed (Italian) parsley

Characteristics: This unsung hero can do more than just garnish a plate. In French and Italian cooking, many a stock, stew, and soup calls for bouquet garni flavored by this herb. Generally speaking, flat parsley has a peppery bite whereas the curly kind is relatively bland. And as their names denote, they have textural differences, too. Pastas and egg recipes often benefit from a sprinkling of chopped parsley; the herb’s clean, light flavor cuts down on heavy creaminess and also acts as a palate-cleanser. For something different, try substituting parsley for basil when making pesto.

What does parsley look like? Italian parsley has broad, serrated, green leaves. As the name suggests, curly parsley’s leaves are curled (and also green).

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