Top Favorite Greek Herbs to Use for Cooking
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Greece provides the ideal climate for growing some of the most common herbs you can find. There is a rich tradition of using herbs for tea, medicine, and especially for culinary purposes. If you are trying to build your pantry for Greek cooking, you will want to keep a nice collection of the common herbs to have on hand for when you put meals together. It is best if you have the fresh herbs, but dried herbs have an important place, as well.
Here’s a look at some of the most beloved herbs to have on hand for use in Greek cooking:
Oregano is by far the most common of all the Greek herbs. In fact, most Greek dishes seem to use oregano! It is sprinkled on top of salads, used in soups, included in marinades for meat, and is always present at the table so you can shake on a little extra. Both the fresh and dried herb are used in this case. If you want to really make the traditional choice, try to find authentic Greek oregano to try.
Typically thought of as an herb primarily used for tea, mint is a surprising key ingredient in many top recipes. It pairs especially well with ground meat, and you will often see mint in recipes for Greek meatballs (keftedes) and stuffed grape leaves (dolmades). Some even put it in other dishes such as spanakopita (Greek spinach pie), since it also pairs very well with spinach.
Thyme is another herb that is used a lot in Greek cooking. Often considered a stand in for oregano, it’s common to see the two herbs used interchangeably, depending on which version of a recipe you decide to follow. Besides that, thyme is long considered to be a classic herb that pairs well with poultry dishes, especially those that include chicken.
Of this list, parsley is just about the only herb that doesn’t seem to have a place in Greek cuisine if using it dried. Even when fresh, the aroma is fairly delicate. When the herb is dried, the oils within the plant responsible for its delicate flavor evaporate quickly. Most markets sell bunches of fresh parsley, or you could grow your own plant so that you can have fresh parsley whenever you want. They do well both indoors and outdoors.
Dill is an acquired taste for many Greeks. People either love it or dislike it. For those who love it, they seem to chop it fine and put it on almost everything! For example, the fresh herb is often sprinkled on Greek salad. It also makes its way into dishes such as Greek spinach pie, also known as spanakopita. It is also a key herb that is traditionally used when picking vegetables.
Bay palm, the tree where bay leaves come from, grows very well in Greece. As a result, it is often used in Greek cooking. It is primarily included as a flavoring in soups, stews, or braised meat or vegetable dishes. It has a delicate flavor and many recipes seem to use it. If it is hard for you to find, consider using Greek oregano or thyme instead. However the flavor won’t quite be the same.
These herbs are commonly used in Greek cooking. You should consider having them on hand!
Categorized in: Greek Cooking
This post was written by Greek Boston