Eating green is a hot topic these days. I love the double meaning: eating green to support sustainable agriculture and our beautiful Earth and eating green because naturally green foods are so health-building!
Take fresh herbs for example. They're loaded with color, flavor and powerful antioxidants - valuable plant compounds that may play a vital role in promoting health. While there are many awesome herbs to choose from, Fall is a good time to talk about thyme, an aromatic herb to spice up everything from roast chicken to casseroles to cookies!
There are many species of thyme, but here in the U.S. we are most familiar with English thyme and lemon thyme, which has a wonderful lemony flavor! No matter which variety you choose, thyme is compatible with lots of different dishes and is an absolute must in Cajun cooking. I can't imagine Louisiana Creole without the magic of thyme!
Whether you use a whole thyme sprig or the tiny little leaves, you'll add delicious aroma and unique flavor to your dish, but don't let this keep you from using dried thyme as well. As a general rule, use three times as much fresh as dried. And remember that because fresh thyme is a fairly hardy herb, you can add it in the earlier phases of cooking - that's one reason why it works so well with roasted meats, fowl, veggies and vegetarian dishes alike. Dried thyme can be used in most any recipe that calls for fresh thyme; just be sure to make the proper adjustment in amount used.
When you take time to cook with fresh herbs like thyme you get great flavor, versatility, good nutrition, and you can cut back on salt and fat. Here are some great uses for thyme:
- Add to sauces such as cream sauce, tomato sauce or BBQ sauce.
- Add to soups, stews and chowders.
- Season your sides like in these Roasted Root Vegetables, Scalloped Potatoes or Brussel Sprouts with Apples and Shallots.
- Add a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves to a biscuit or scone recipe.
- Make savory whole grain muffins to complement a meal: Try these Savory Cheese, Cranberry and Herb Mini Muffins.
- Delicious with pot roast such as this Thyme-Scented Rib Roast or this Roasted Brisket with Parsley Mint and Thyme.
- Mix with olive oil, garlic, a little salt and pepper, coat a whole chicken and roast until done.
- Add to stuffing mix.
- Here's a Creole Fish Stew that uses dried thyme; feel free to spruce it up with a little additional fresh thyme if desired.
- Garnish fresh tomato slices with thyme leaves. Drizzle with quality oil such as extra virgin olive oil or roasted walnut oil. A bit of feta or shaved Romano would top this off nicely!
- Garnish casseroles.
- Make a seasoning mix with dried thyme, salt, pepper, dried garlic and dried onion. Great with meat, fish, fowl, tofu or tempeh. Here's an idea for Baked Tilapia with Lemon Thyme Flaky Salt.
- Sauté with onions, garlic, tomatoes and other aromatic or flavorful vegetables.
- Garnish fresh green salads.
- Stir into bread crumb coating, like in this Oven-Roasted Catfish.
- Pair thyme with roast lamb or lamb chops.
- Scramble eggs and add thyme.
- Making shortbread cookies for a special occasion? Be sure to add a tablespoon or so of fresh thyme leaves.
- Add to gravy like we did in this Turkey Gravy with Fresh Thyme.
- Sprinkle over pizza before serving.
- Thyme for breakfast? You bet! Start with these delicious Bacon, Walnut and Thyme Scones.
- Mix with honey and drizzle over feta cheese or try this delicious Greek Yogurt with Honey Thyme Walnut Crumble.
Purchase beautiful green leaves - no browning or yellowing, please! Once home, wash under running water; dry and wrap in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for about 5 to 7 days. Ideally, fresh herbs should be used as soon as possible after purchasing. Keep dried herbs for up to 6 months or longer in a pantry.
Got a favorite way to add thyme to your recipes? I would love to hear!