People become vegetarians for all sorts of reasons. Some want to live longer, healthier lives, while others want to reduce their environmental footprint. Most will cite their respect for animals and objection to killing them for food.
Whatever the reason, millions of people around the world live without eating meat or fish.
For many non-vegetarians, the idea of moving to a meat-free diet poses challenges – call it a lack of culinary imagination. Luckily, a vegetarian diet is as varied and exciting as any omnivores. If anything, the challenge of living meat-free leads to more exciting cooking experiences!
So dust off your apron, pop on your chef’s hat, and take a tour of our herb guide to cooking – vegetarian style. Alternatively, check out our full Infographic here.
There are many types of Basil on offer, but the most popular varieties are split into two groups. The Mediterranean group consists of sweet basil, Greek basil and purple basil; the Asian group consists of lemon basil, Thai basil and holy basil.
Pass the pasta…
Try adding Greek basil and lemon to any pasta dish for a zesty, peppery flavour
PRO TIP: For a milder and sweeter flavour, use purple or sweet basil instead of Greek.
A basil smoothie for breakfast….
Add basil to the blender when making your favourite smoothies for a fresher flavour.
PRO TIP: Try holy basil in smoothies for a subtle spice that compliments a cooled drink.
Sometimes referred to as ‘dill weed’, this name is only applied to the fresh or dry leaves, which have a flavour likened to mild caraway or fennel leaves.
Get yourself in a pickle…
If you enjoy pickling gherkins, dill seeds are the signature ingredient in ‘dill pickles’.
PRO TIP: For a stronger flavour, chop up some dill leaves and sprinkle over your pickles.
Make rice twice as nice….
Chopped dill leaves can be added to rice before serving to add a warm bitter tang to your rice.
PRO TIP: Use dill flowers, instead of leaves, for an even stronger flavour.
Mint is one of the world’s most popular herb families, and with good reason. Be it spearmint, peppermint, wild mint, or even apple mint, there are as many types of mint as there are uses for it.
It’s not just peas that can be minted…
When steaming or boiling any vegetable, bean, or legume, add a bunch of mint beforehand for a refreshing flavour.
PRO TIP: After boiling your mint and veg, drain and add to a bowl alongside 2 glugs of the finest olive oil and leave for 30 minutes. This will give time for the flavours to develop.
Get your courgettes ready to roast….
After roasting courgettes (or aubergines), add a liberal sprinkling of mint, garlic and lemon to make a fine feast.
PRO TIP: Add roasted pistachios to the mix to balance the freshness of the mint.
A close relative of marjoram, oregano’s high-oil content means that it retains much of its flavour when dried. Its subsequent long shelf-life has led to its popularity as a kitchen essential.
Oregano is super in soups…
Add oregano to a noodle or split pea soup to give it some Mediterranean flavour.
PRO TIP: Mix oregano with mascarpone and stir into you noodle soup just before serving.
Mexican oregano is a zesty herb you need to try …
Mexican oregano is similar to Mediterranean oregano but with hints of lemon and liquorice. It works especially well in spicy dishes.
PRO TIP: Try quesadillas with Swiss chard cheese, chilli and Mexican oregano to create a fiery delight.
Although easy to cultivate in any temperate climate (and your own garden), most commercially-grown Rosemary comes from Spain, France and Morocco.
Have a buttery broccoli bath with rosemary …
Add chopped rosemary to a pot of melting butter and then drizzle over broccoli just before serving.
PRO TIP: Serve buttery broccoli with fresh pasta as a simple but indulgent meal.
Give potato wedges a touch of class…
Garnishing potato wedges with rosemary is not only a treat for the taste buds, but is also visual pleasing as well.
PRO TIP: For a more powerful rosemary flavour, rub the potatoes with a rosemary and olive oil mix before roasting.
Traditionally used to accompany fatty meats, sage is often used in vegan cooking to flavour hardy root vegetables which require lengthy cooking.
Sage is perfect with pasta…
Sage is an essential ingredient in Italian cooking. Add chopped to pasta sauces for an authentic Italian flavour.
PRO TIP: Chopped sage goes great in a black bean lasagne.
Pumpkin and sage; an unusual and delicious combo …
Whether garnishing a pumpkin risotto or creating pumpkin fritters, sage can be added during or after the cook to balance the sweet flavour or pumpkin with sage’s earthy tones.
PRO TIP: Add sage to creamy dishes that feature eggs or cheese.
Tarragon’s unique flavour is what makes it stand out from most herbs. It’s often described as ‘aniseed mixed with vanilla’ or ‘spicy, minty, liquorice’.
Create a charming tarragon crème…
Blend cashews, pine nuts, lemon juice, miso paste, and three quarters of a cup of water until smooth and creamy. Then mix in minced tarragon for a luxurious sauce that goes great with mushroom dishes.
PRO TIP: Make a batch of tarragon crème and add to pasta as a simple sauce.
Make a quick quiche…
No quiche is complete without some chopped tarragon. Add a tablespoon to your usual quiche recipe for a unique flavour.
PRO TIP: Basil and tarragon are a great herb combo. Try adding tarragon to your basil dishes for a more bold flavoured meal.
There are 2 main types of thyme commonly used in cooking. Common thyme with its sweet, earthy flavour and lemon thyme with its citrus tang.
Chow down on some chowder…
Thyme adds an aromatic scent and silky flavour to cauliflower or butternut squash chowders.
PRO TIP: Make sure to remove your thyme sprigs before serving.
A sumptuous strudel…
When making a vegetable strudel, add dried thyme to the oil mix you use to brush the pastry. The thyme will infuse into the pastry, adding a delicate natural flavour.
PRO TIP: Minced garlic and chopped thyme are a great combo to add to any oil mix.
Native to Southern Europe and the Middle East, coriander is now used around the world as an ingredient in curries, stir-fries and chillies.
Try adding to a tagine…
In Moroccan cuisine, both fresh and dried coriander are used to flavour stews. Try adding coriander to an eggplant tagine, dried at the beginning and fresh at the end.
PRO TIP: Add coriander seeds to your pepper mill for an interesting twist.
Make simple sandwiches and salads more complex…..
The great thing about fresh coriander is its versatility. Adding it to simple salads and sandwiches will brighten up your snacks with a fresh citrus flavour.
PRO TIP: Dried ground coriander is also a great ingredient to add to sandwich spreads.
Native to southern Europe, but most popular in Ireland and Britain, parsley has been cultivated as a garnish for over 2000 years.
Get to the root of the matter…
Leaf parsley is the most common type of parsley used in cooking, but Hamburg root parsley is a delicious root vegetable that is similar to carrot. Eat it raw or use it in soups and stews.
PRO TIP: Sautéed root parsley can be blended to make a delicious puree that can form the basis of many vegetable dishes.
A requirement for tasty ragout …..
Chopped parsley can add a crisp, lush accent to any tomato ragout as part of the sauce, as well as being added after cooking as a garnish.
PRO TIP: Flat leaf parsley is used in cooking, whereas curly leaf parsley is used as a decoration.
Properly seasoned food is an essential skill to master when cooking. Not only will you enjoy cooking more once you’ve mastered the use of herbs, but your food will taste better, smell better, and impress everyone who tastes it.
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Vegetarian Times. 2015. Broccoli with rosemary. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Brown butter roasted cauliflower sautéed plantains and parsley root pure. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Butternut squash and cauliflower chowder. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Double coriander eggplant tagine. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Guadalajaran swiss chard quesadillas. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. HHHazelnut couscous with wild mushrooms and tarragon crème. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Mushroom cheese and vegetable strudel. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Roasted vegetable sandwiches with zesty white bean spread. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Roasted zucchini with pistachios and mint. vegetariantimes.com
Vegetarian Times. 2015. Wild rice with glazed carrot and tomato ragout. vegetariantimes.com