Basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, sage… fresh herbs are a huge part of what makes a bland dish a stunning one. But you might be surprised to know there’s a whole world of herbs outside the ones you most commonly use to stuff a turkey or season a salsa. According to the National Restaurant Association, one of the biggest food trends of 2018 will be uncommon herbs. Since grocery stores respond to demand, it’s not too big a leap to think some of these less popular herbs may start showing up in the produce department or at your local farmers market.
Chervil is an herb most commonly used in French cooking, particularly to flavor mild dishes like poultry, seafood, soups, sauces and young spring vegetables. It tastes like a cross between parsley and tarragon, which make for solid substitutes for the real thing, but has hints of other flavors like licorice. It’s sometimes called garden chervil or French parsley. It’s a softer herb, so it doesn’t need prolonged cooking time and can be added as a finishing touch to a dish.
Lovage tastes like a mix between cilantro and celery, but the flavors are very strong. The leaves are tasty in salads and soups or on fish and poultry. The roots can be eaten as a vegetable, and the seeds can be ground as well. You can use it anywhere you might use celery or parsley.
You may have heard of this herb being used in tea, in part because alternative medicine suggests it has a calming effect. Also delicious in ice cream, fruit, candy and fish recipes, the leaves of the lemon balm plant have a mild lemon flavor.
Also known as Bolivian coriander, mampuritu and killi, among other names, this herb is perfect if you love Latin American food. It is popular in salsas in Mexico and South America or as a garnish on Latin American dishes. This herb tastes a bit like a very strong cross between cilantro and arugula.
With a scent and flavor similar to cinnamon and clove, the herb is often described as refreshing and is popular in Japanese dishes, particularly sushi. You might have also tasted it as part of a furikake garnish.
Especially popular in Eastern Canada, summer savory has a slightly peppery flavor and is used in hearty, savory dishes much like sage is used elsewhere. Pork, beef, grilled meats, soups and barbecue all benefit from the flavor. You might have tasted it before, as it’s a main ingredient in herbes de Provence.