Fragrant and fresh tasting herbs can transform a dish from bland to tasty. Its just a matter of knowing which ones to use and what they are called in Spanish. Fresh and dry herbs can be found in most supermarkets or markets, and obviously there are always the dried varieties.
Here are a few of the most traditional herbs used in the kitchen:
Basil Albahaca. The strong, clove like flavour is essential to many Italian recipes and it is paired most often with tomatoes. Basil is primarily used in sauces, pizzas, salads and pasta dishes. It is also the main ingredient used in pesto.
Bay Leaves Laurel. Homemade chicken soup would not be homemade without a bay leaf or two. Don't worry about using the fresh herb, the dried version is usually all that is needed. However, overuse of this herb can make a dish bitter.
Parsley Perejil. Parsley is a great all around herb. It quickly adds a touch of colour and texture to any recipe. The aroma and taste of parsley is very distinctive for an herb that is generally described as being mild and non obtrusive.
Oregano - Oregano. It has a warm, aromatic scent and robust taste. Its uses include seasoning soups, stews, meat pies, pasta sauces and shellfish, vegetables, roast beef, lamb, chicken and pork. Generally used to season Mexican, Italian, Greek and Spanish dishes.
Fennel Hinojo. The seed is similar to aniseed, but sweeter and milder. It pairs well with fish, but Italians also like to add it to sauces, meats & sausages. The spice comes from the dried seeds; the herb comes from the leaves and the stalk and root. Roman warriors took fennel to keep in good health while their ladies ate it to prevent obesity.
Sage Salvia. Enhances pork, lamb, meats, and sausages. Chopped leaves flavour salads, pickles, and cheese. Crumble leaves for full fragrance. Use ground Sage sparingly as foods absorb its flavour more quickly.
Rosemary Romero. Rosemary's aromatic flavour blends well with garlic and thyme to season lamb roasts, meat stews, and marinades. Rosemary also enlivens lighter fish and poultry dishes, tomato sauces, and vegetables.
Thyme Tomillo. Fresh thyme has the most flavour used whole, with the stem. Thyme is included in seasoning blends for poultry and stuffing and also commonly used in fish sauces, chowders, and soups. It goes well with lamb and veal as well as in eggs and croquettes. Thyme if often paired with tomatoes.