Herbs in the Epicuria Kitchen, The Anatomy of Fresh

The art of cuisine is the understanding of how ingredients enhance technique. Take herbs for instance, we use a lot of herbs in our kitchen, both fresh and dried. The important thing is knowing when to use them and why. But what may come to a surprise, is how nutritionally beneficial these decisions are.

How to Cook with Dried Herbs

The best application of dried herbs is during cooking. Use them in a stew, a slow braise, or a slow cooking sauce to allow them to infuse flavour into the whole dish. Adding dried herbs too late in the process, will cause your meal lack flavour and may cause an unattractive ‘dusty’ taste.

Woody herbs like rosemary, thyme, marjoram and oregano hold their flavour nicely when dried, while fleshy, soft herbs like basil, chives and tarragon lose much of the flavour makes them so special.

Mixed Grain Pilaf -Epicuria, Ottawa

How to Cook with Fresh Herbs

When we’re using fresh herbs we tend to add them at the very end of the cooking process where we get the most flavour bang for our buck. This makes the most sense in the off-season, when the price of fresh produce is high.

Sometimes we’ll roast chicken thighs, let them cool slightly, then toss them with coriander and spices to liberally coat the outside before packaging. When we head out with trays of cooked pork tenderloin for a catered plated dinner, we often brush the top of the meat with an herb infused oil before serving. We also add handfuls of fresh chive to a potato puree, adding colour and fresh punchy flavour.  We often finish the entire plate with herbs too Italian parsley, cilantro or basil add a nice hint of green and accent flavour notes.

Adding fresh herbs to the end of a cooked dish also ensures they don’t oxidize and turn black. Bits of black soggy herbs don’t add that “wow factor”.

More and more common in the Epicura kitchen is the use of fresh herbs, added raw to condiments and uncooked sauces. Chimichurri, a South American green sauce made with huge amounts of parsley, garlic, onions, lemon and a dash of red wine vinegar, is a great example. Chimichirri (found as a standard condiment in our Flank Steak Protein Salad) is processed raw for maximum flavour and bright green colour. The side benefit to that (the thing most people forget about herbs), is how much nutrition is packed into those fleshy, woody or spiky leaves.

Cilantro has a whopping Vitamin A content, 225% of Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and is rich in B complex vitamins and Vitamin C. 

Parsley, yes lowly parsley, packs a punch with both A (281% RDA) & C (220% RDA) plus a whole range of others. 

Rosemary brings a considerable amount of Vitamin A (97% RDA) to the table and it’s loaded with iron (93% RDA).  

As a general rule, leafy green herbs carry more vitamins, while woody stemmed herbs like thyme and rosemary contribute more trace minerals and iron to the foodstuffs they enhance. (Here’s a handy resource if you want to know a little more about the nutrition in your favorite herbs.)

We’re not just making food taste good, we’re making food that’s good for you.  Feeding you is serious business.

Discover healthy, herbaceous meals by shopping our food store online, or visit us in-store.

Moraccan Chicken - Epicuria, Ottawa
Epicuria is an Ottawa-based food shop and catering company. We elevate corporate and social events and create cravings you can indulge daily – from take-home food to prepared meals you’ll love.
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