Sure, classic herbs (think cilantro, parsley) will always have a special place in our hearts (and pantry). But lately, a new wave of uncommon herbs is adding interesting and distinctive flavors to dishes on menus all over the country. Shake things up a bit during your next trip to the farmer’s market and try one of these lesser-known herbs in one of your daily specials.
Here’s a quick primer to get you started.
What it is: As one of the Big Four in Les Fines Herbs of French cuisine (chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon), this anise-adjacent herb tastes like a cross between parsley and tarragon
What to look for: Curly, dark green, aromatic leaves
How to use it: It’s a great addition to fish, soups and butter sauces
Recipe: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Beets with Yogurt and Chervil
What it is: This cilantro relative grows wild in Mexico, where it’s often placed in a bouquet on restaurant tables, so customers can add the fresh herb to their food
What to look for: Bright green, butterfly-shaped leaves with a pungent taste reminiscent of cilantro, arugula and mint
How to use it: Try it anywhere you’d use cilantro, including guacamole. Pápalo is a key ingredient in cemitas, the classic Mexican sandwich
Recipe: Cemitas with pápalo from the New Development Farmers Project
What it is: This bright and citrusy herb is sweetly refreshing, with a taste that’s been described by Chef Alan Bergo as “concentrated lemonade”
What to look for: Leaves should be rough and dry, while stems should be juicy. Both leaves and stems are used in cooking
How to use it: Add it to desserts, drinks and syrups
Recipe: From Alan Bergo, the Forager Chef: Cucumber Salad with Lemon Balm and Comfrey Flowers
Try mixing any of these lesser-known herbs into T. Marzetti™ salad dressings for a fresh and delicious take on salads, marinades, and more.