Fun Facts about Herbs

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By Julia Sayers

Now that we are well into summer and gardens are in full bloom, it’s time to take advantage of all the fresh produce summer has to offer. Fresh herbs are some of the easiest and most versatile produce to cook with, and your gardens, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores should be full of them. In the July/August issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, we have a whole feature on recipes utilizing six of Paula’s favorite herbs. Here, we wanted to share some fun facts with you about these fragrant plants.

Tarragon:
Tarragon is paired best with salads, egg dishes, chicken, and fish. In fact, there are few herbs that improve the flavor of fish as well as tarragon does. It is a staple in French cuisine, and French tarragon is actually a member of the daisy family.
We made: Tarragon Crab Cakes with Crème Fraîche Sauce

Dill:
In ancient Greek and Roman cultures, dill was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties. Ancient soldiers would apply burned dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing. Appropriately enough, the name dill comes from the Old English word dilla, meaning “to lull,” because it has been used to soothe stomach pain and other ailments.
We made: Dill Pappardelle

Basil:
There are various kinds of basil, and each variety has a different scent. This is because the herb has a number of essential oils that come together in different proportions for various breeds. The most common basil scents are lemon, clove, camphor, and licorice.
We made: Basil Watermelon Salad

Rosemary:
Rosemary was considered “the herb of memory” in Ancient times as the leaves were thought to quicken the mind and prevent forgetfulness. In the English Tudor era, though, rosemary was a symbol of happiness, love, and fidelity. Brides would wear rosemary at their weddings or present a sprig of it to the groom.
We made: Rosemary-Parmesan Biscuits

Cilantro:
Ever wondered why people either love or hate cilantro? Many like its pungent and fresh flavor, but there are a number of people who claim a strong aversion to the herb saying it tastes “soapy” or like crushed bugs. Scientists believe the preference is determined by genetics, as many people of European descent don’t like it, while those from Latin America and Southeast Asia use it frequently.
We made: Cilantro Succotash

Mint:
Mint gets its name from the ancient Greek mythical character Minthe, a river nymph. Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe, but when Persephone, Hades’s wife, found out, she turned Minthe into a plant so that everyone would walk all over her and crush her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a magnificent aroma so that he could smell her and be near her when people trod on her. If you plan to grow mint, the most common variety is spearmint.
We made: Mint-Cashew Crusted Rack of Lamb

Store your fresh herbs:
Many of these herbs can be easily frozen either by the sprig in plastic bags, after blanching, or in olive oil. Make premade herb add-ins by freezing chopped herbs in olive oil in an ice cube tray. When you’re making a sauce or sautéing foods, just pop a cube out, toss it in the pan, and voilà! You’ll have the taste of fresh herbs even in the winter after they’re gone.

To get all the recipes listed here, pick up a copy of the July/August issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, on newsstands now!

Julia Sayers grew up with a love and appreciation for good food, instilled in her by her Italian family. She learned to cook from family recipes, passed down from her mother and grandmother. As she grew older, she decided to pursue a career in journalism to express her passion for food through writing. After working for newspapers, a travel magazine, a cookbook publisher, and even as a dolphin photographer in the Florida Keys, Julia came on board with Cooking with Paula Deen as the Associate Editor. She loves that she gets to work with food everyday, whether it be writing about it, tasting delicious goodies in the test kitchen, or overseeing photoshoots.
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Reader Comments:

54321

I love this! I think every home struggling for food should get potted edibles, really. But, Elizabethtown is on and I Really think you should do more acting. Really.

By CD on July 22, 2014

54321

A suggestion???? You have such wonderful recipes and I note the good listing of some herbs. Our health is based on our food. I know of no other show emphasizing the benefits of foods for our health in detail. Jamie does a great job with his lighter sides but this is an avenue to help people get even healthier. Jeanette Richardson, MEd, PhD Holist Nutrition

By Jeanette Richardson on July 10, 2014

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm