tarragon

Dried herbs have their place, but fresh herbs add a totally different dimension to food. There’s a vibrancy and brightness that is lost in the drying process. And in terms of your garden—backyard, community or your windowsill—there are many types of herbs to grow that break from the norm. If you’re going to grow herbs, you might as well also eat them, right?

We know the usual suspects when it comes to herbs: basil, parsley, thyme, maybe even cilantro (if you’re one of us—the people who love it). But there are many other delicious herbs to grow indoors or out, in most any climate. These unique herbs will add freshness and flavor to your meals, not to mention the wow factor their uniqueness brings.

1. Vietnamese Coriander: Also called Vietnamese mint, you may have eaten this herb in Asian cuisine. It’s a beautiful plant with “v” shaped marks leaves. It’s got a slight kick to it and can be eaten raw or cooked.

2. Ginger Mint: It looks like you’d imagine: mint leaves with golden, gingery streaks in it. And it’s flavor brings a similar marriage between these complimentary flavors. Add to salads, stir fry dishes or even a favorite smoothie recipe.

3. Savory: Also known as summer savory, this herb is sweeter than winter savory with a delicate but savory flavor (duh!). It’s similar to sage but less pungent and can be used in casseroles, marinades, dressings and eaten fresh.

4. French Sorrel: Sorrel is more popular these days thanks to the renaissance happening around green foods. But it’s lesser-known cousin French Sorrel has a bit of a lemony flavor, earning it the nickname “lemonade leaf.” It can be added to cooked dishes: think pasta, risotto and anything creamy that could use an acidic tone. Makes an excellent addition to a warm potato salad.

5. Tarragon: It’s a slightly more popular herb but still not all that common. Tarragon has a sweet, earthy flavor that’s just slightly reminiscent of fennel. It goes wonderfully in a fruit salad, bringing out the sweetness of the fruit, and it works equally as well in savory salad dressings. A personal favorite is including it in a tempeh mock tuna salad with a vegan mayonnaise dressing.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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 Image: Don Lavange