For many, the idea of not eating meat is an alien concept. But millions of people around the world not only follow a meat-free diet, but also abstain from consuming any product derived from animals. For most vegans, their decision to refrain from using animal by-products is an ethical one, as it is not only animals that are used for meat who suffer. But being a vegan is not just an ethical stand-point, it also carries both health and environmental benefits.
The secret to creating delicious vegan meals – just like any other cuisine – lies in the condiments. Choosing the right herbs and spices can make or break a meal, but knowing what will complement and what will desecrate a dish can often prove to be a culinary minefield.
We’ve scoured every cookbook, food blog and cooking show we could find to compile this informative guide to the most popular herbs, their history and how you should use them when cooking a vegan meal. We hope you enjoy out Vegan Herb Guide To Cooking – A Visual Article. For more information check out the full Infographic here.
Most frequently found in Mediterranean cooking, but also very prevalent in Asian cuisine, the herb basil has a sweet, strong aroma and distinct flavour.
Making vegan pesto with basil works great…
Toss this simple pesto into pasta, use as a sauce on a pizza base or a serve as a dip to accompany bread or crackers.
PRO TIP: Try using sweet or Thai basil as a basis for a pesto!
Tomato and basil are the perfect match….
Combine, tomato and basil with avocado or any kind of bean to give your salads a boost.
PRO TIP: Elevate your salads with a vegan creamy avocado & basil dressing!
Native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia, Dill is a versatile herb that is easy to home-grow in a garden or window-box.
Dill can make any soup super…
Add dill leaves to any soup or vegetable borscht to supplement its warmth and add a bitter tang.
PRO TIP: For a stronger flavour, use dill flowers instead of leaves.
Dill makes vegan ‘fish’ the catch of the day….
Dill is notorious for its use in fish-based dishes, so if you’re making ‘crab’ cakes out of tempeh, tofu or beans then don’t forget to add some dill leaves.
PRO TIP: Mix dill, garlic, olive oil and lemon for a delicious dressing for vegan ‘fish’ dishes.
One of the most commonly used herbs, Mint is the genus name for a number of different species of plant. Each type of mint has its own flavour and appearance, but all carry an unmistakable ‘fresh’ taste.
Mint is a cheeky addition to a salad…
Mint leaves can add a much-needed freshness to vegetable, bean or even fruit salads.
PRO TIP: For savoury salads combine peppermint with oil and use as a dressing. For sweet salads finely chop apple mint and sprinkle over as a seasoning.
Chilli-mint; a shocking sensation
If you want to add the element of surprise to a dish try mixing spearmint and chillies together to create a cool but spicy seasoning.
PRO TIP: Add mint and chillies to a bottle of olive oil to create a simple but startling dressing that gets spicier with age!
Boasting a robust flavour and arresting aroma, oregano is traditionally found in Mediterranean and Mexican cooking where it is often added as a seasoning at the end of cooking.
Oregano and tomato are best buds…
Any tomato-based dish, be it a pizza, pasta or even a vegetable gumbo, can be enhanced with the addition of a liberal sprinkling of dried oregano.
PRO TIP: Blend fresh oregano with whole tomatoes, a dash of salt and pinch of sugar to create your own simple passata.
Oregano loves roast vegetables…
Fresh oregano can be used with a variety of vegetables, but is an excellent accompaniment to roasted aubergines.
PRO TIP: Ensure you use half as much fresh oregano as you would dried as its flavour is twice as strong.
Used most extensively in French, Spanish and Italian cooking, rosemary unsurprisingly originates from the Mediterranean region.
Go nuts for rosemary stuffing…
No nut-roast is complete without a side of stuffing, and no stuffing would be complete without the inclusion of rosemary.
PRO TIP: Paring rosemary with other herbs such as sage and thyme is essential to creating a flavour-intensive stuffing mix.
Rosemary has a sweet side…
For something a little different, try adding rosemary to biscuits, cookies, jams and jellies. Its perfumed taste adds a pleasing contrast to any sweet flavour.
PRO TIP: Mix rosemary and vegan cheese into your biscuit or cracker dough to make a great savoury snack.
Popular in British, Irish and Italian cooking, sage has a bitter, earthy flavour that can withstand long cooking times while still holding its flavour.
Sage bread that will leave you stuffed…
More commonly known for its role in stuffing, sage is a becoming more popular as an ingredient in bread baking, thanks to its use as the signature herb in ‘herbed focaccia’.
PRO TIP: Try adding chopped sage to olive oil and then drizzling over your dough before baking.
Time for sage tea…
For a blast from the past simply add sage leaves to hot water and enjoy some ‘sage tea’. This simple beverage used to be so popular with the Chinese that they would offer four pounds of Chinese tea, for only one pound of sage.
PRO TIP: For best results, steep sage for five minutes in boiling water before straining.
Believed to have been brought to Europe from Mongolia and Siberia in the 13th century, tarragon has become a key herb in European cooking. In France, it is an essential ingredient in Béarnaise sauce.
Vinegar is better than wine where tarragon is concerned …
Adding tarragon to white wine vinegar creates a fantastic vinaigrette, which can be used as a dressing or in pickling.
PRO TIP: Splash tarragon vinaigrette sparingly over potato salads.
Match strength for strength…
To create an intensely-flavoured dish try mixing tarragons’ bold flavour to any strong-flavoured vegetable such as carrot or asparagus
PRO TIP: Add chopped tarragon and lemon juice to Dijon mustard, before drizzling over boiled asparagus.
A native of the Meditarranean, thyme is a sweetly aromatic herb and a member of the mint family. Much like sage, thyme is best when cooked for a long time – perfect for soups and stews.
Thyme for a Sunday Roast …
If you’re looking to add a sweet and spicy flavour to your Sunday roast, try rubbing cauliflower with thyme and paprika before roasting.
PRO TIP: After roasting sprinkle your cauliflower with grated vegan cheese.
It’s Jam thyme…..
Thyme makes a fantastic sweet jam or compote when combined with lemon or figs.
PRO TIP: Serve thyme jam alongside baked onions and crackers as an appetiser or for an indulgent snack.
One of the world’s most commonly used herbs, coriander’s strong, fresh citrus taste has made it popular as both an ingredient and a garnish.
For curry coriander is an essential…
Even if you’re not partial to it as a garnish, a teaspoon of ground coriander is an essential for any curry paste or sauce.
PRO TIP: Garam masala contains coriander plus all the herbs you need to form the base of curry. Grab a bag for when you’re short on time.
Coriander makes grains great…..
Just before serving rice or couscous, chop up some fresh coriander leaves and mix in to add a fresh flavour to your meals.
PRO TIP: Mix a small glug of olive oil together with some fresh coriander leaves before adding to your cooked grains.
Popular in Ireland and Britain as the eponymous ingredient in parsley sauce, it holds a crisp, grassy flavour that works well alongside many other herbs.
Parsley and falafel are firm friends…
Whether creating balls or burgers, the flavour of falafel is brightened with the addition of fresh parsley.
PRO TIP: Experiment with how long you blend/process your falafel mix for. Some people prefer it smoother than others.
A bouquet of parsley should be given to every soup…..
Tie a sprig of parsley, roots and all, together with a piece of string to use as a bouquet garnish to liven up vegetable stocks or soups.
PRO TIP: Make sure you use natural, un-coloured string or twine. No one wants blue soup!
The key to cooking with herbs is to show no fear. Experiment, be adventurous, and try new combinations.
Cooking with herbs is an art, not a science – it’s all a matter of taste. So get in the kitchen, start mixing, and you’ll be sure to find your own culinary combinations.
About Food. Herbs. homecooking.about.com
About Food. What is coriander? Is it a spice or an herb? homecooking.about.com
BBC. Fresh Coriander Recipes. bbc.co.uk
BBC Good Food. 2015. Herbs. bbcgoodfood.com
eHow. History of spearmint. ehow.com
eHow. What is the history of peppermint candy? ehow.com
Examiner. 2012. History of parsley. examiner.com
Examiner. 2010. Living well: the history & health benefits of oregano. examiner.com
Nordqvist, C. 2014. What is a vegan diet? What are the benefits of being vegan? medicalnewstoday.com
Rhind, J. 2014. Fragrance and Wellbeing: Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche. Philadelphia: Singing Dragon, 2014.
Vegan Society. 2015. Why go vegan. vegansociety.com