Do your bags of herbs end up languishing at the bottom of the fridge and turning soggy? We’ve all been there. Read on for some incredibly delicious recipes to inspire you using a variety of fresh herbs.

Summer herbs

Cooking with herbs adds freshness, fragrance and layers of flavour to so many dishes. They are transformative in cooking. Imagine a curry without a scattering of coriander or a tomato salad without aromatic basil? For me, herbs are just as important as salt, enhancing and lifting food to another level.

It’s easy to forget herbs have seasonality because of the round-year availability in supermarkets. Grow your own or buy herbs that are in season for the best quality. Here’s my 5 favourite summer herbs and some herb-centric recipes.

  1. Dill

Dill is a beautiful herb with a fairly strong aniseed note. Fish and seafood are natural partners, chicken and eggs, too. On the veg side: asparagus, peas, broad beans, beetroot, potato, leeks, tomatoes and cucumber all partner well with dill.

Braised sliced leeks in veg stock and lemon juice, garnished with dill and feta is a simple side dish. Or, go a bit Scandi and stir chopped dill through scrambled egg or smoked salmon open sandwich.

I use dill liberally in my green veg Persian kuku recipe here. It is a light and gently spiced dish abundant with fresh herbs. If you’re bored of cooking the same fritatta recipe time and time again, then this one is for you.

Cooking with herbs - Persian kuku
Cooking with herbs - Peach tabbouleh

  1. Mint

This kitchen staple is so versatile – use it in salads, pesto, dips, summery soups and pastas, to name but a few. I love its palette awakening freshness in Asian salads or in a cooling raita to temper the heat of a spicy curry. Veg with a particular affinity with mint are courgettes, potatoes, broad beans and peas. And fruit such as pineapple, melon, peach and strawberries all love mint.

Like most soft herbs, don’t over chop or it will bruise and blacken. It’s best to tear the leaves straight into salads to get the best of its fresh flavour. Or use a super sharp knife. Mint mojito, anyone?

Try my fruity twist on a traditional tomato tabbouleh with my peach and pistachio version.

  1. Basil

Basil is is commonly associated with Mediterranean cooking: think tomato and mozzarella salad or ratatouille. Basil, with its slightly sweet and aniseed taste, is totally best friends with tomatoes, aubergine, courgette and peppers. But, more unusually though, a strawberry and goat’s cheese salad with basil and balsamic vinegar is a beautiful combination. Watermelon and basil gazpacho is a refreshing take on the original and makes an elegant starter.

You can’t beat basil pesto, though. It makes a taste enhancing partner to this healthy and vibrant green soup recipe.

Cooking with herbs - basil
Cooking with herbs - basil

  1. Tarragon

This wonderful herb is often overlooked; its strong aniseed flavour certainly takes a gentle hand. Use it too generously and it will completely overpower a dish. Obvious protein partners are fish, seafood, egg, chicken and beef. But certain veg such as beetroot, asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes and carrots all marry well with its anise flavour.

If you’re a fan of mackerel then you’ll enjoy this simple and flavourful salad – pan-fried mackerel with beetroot and tarragon.

  1. Coriander

This big flavoured herb splits the crowd and you’re either love or loathe it. It’s mainly used in Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Thai dishes. Add it chopped, stalks n’ all, into dishes at the end of cooking to preserve its citrusy and slightly spicy notes. Use in salsas, dressings, marinades, soups, stews and sauces.

Shake up your morning smoothie by adding a small handful of coriander with a hit of fresh ginger in a green smoothie. Ring the changes and try making an alternative pesto with coriander and cashews instead of pine nuts.

If you love coriander, try these tasty leek, chickpea and spinach samosas served with coriander chutney. They’re great as nibble food or as a starter to an Indian spread.

Cooking with herbs - coriander

There are other lovely herbs such as as bay, sorrel, chervil, chives, oregano and parsley to consider, too. Looks like I’ll need to do another post! So next time you’re out shopping, don’t skimp on loading up with lots of fresh herbs. Take them out of their plastic wrapper, if necessary, and store in slightly damp kitchen roll or cloth in a tupperware container. Your herbs will last much longer and hopefully avoid the dreaded black herbs found in the bottom of your salad drawer.