One of the great things about combining ingredients when cooking, (see also How to Eat for Vitality) is the depth of flavour you can create to tantalise yourself into eating well. Frequently overlooked, fresh herbs are an incredible source of both intense flavour and concentrated nutrient value—they’re rich in antioxidants that fortify your body against disease, and pack a vitamin punch. For instance, parsley is an excellent source of Vitamin K—essential for blood clotting and bone health. Thyme delivers Vitamins A, and C. Chives are little powerhouses of thiamine, niacin, Vitamins A, C, K, B6. You get the picture. Some ideas for using herbs to make a party on your palate:
- Add chopped chives and dill to any green salad (cos lettuce, shaved fennel marinated in lemon juice, and avocado, for example).
- Make a salad of mint, coriander leaves and chopped chives; combine with glass noodles, finely sliced leftover roast meat, halved cherry tomatoes and a dressing of grated palm sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and soy sauce.
- Tear basil leaves over any tomato dish, from salads to soups and pasta sauces.
- Salsa verde is a delicious, life-affirming herb sauce that gives a flavour hit to fish, grilled chicken or roast lamb. In a food processor, combine a cup of Italian parsley leaves, a cup of basil leaves, two teaspoons of capers and a clove of garlic until chopped; add half a cup of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and salt to taste—process to a coarse paste and spoon it over.
- A sprinkling of thyme leaves is another great way to add interest to chicken, fish, and white sauce.
- Add chervil leaves to a nutritious salad of chopped iceberg lettuce, chopped hard-boiled eggs and steamed peas or asparagus. Or sprinkle chervil over a simple zucchini soup (sauteed onion, zucchini and potato chunks, simmered to tenderness in chicken stock and blended with a little parmesan).
- Mint and pineapple are a combo that tap dances on your tongue. Serve grilled (maybe barbequed) slices of pineapple, with a sprinkling of torn mint leaves and a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. Or combine mint, pineapple, ice cubes, lime juice and a little sugar syrup, in a blender for a cooling summer drink—call it a frappe, or a cocktail if you add a shot of rum.