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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Paula Deen
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm