Spices and herbs are the best way to add flavor and depth to dishes. Cooking with herbs and growing herbs can not only expand the flavor profiles that can be created in a restaurant, but also provide chefs with the opportunity to experiment with unusual flavor combinations and different seasonings that can make a venue stand out. Though cooking from the garden often involves having a restaurant garden, spices and herbs can also be found by talking to suppliers or local farmers. The 5 unusual herbs described here can be great additions to a restaurant kitchen, whether chopped, ground, or simply thrown into the dish being prepared.
Lovage can be compared to bay leaf in that it is best used to add flavor to liquids, while being used in small quantities. Lovage can be described as tasting somewhat like celery, but a lot stronger. One or two leaves can be enough to add subtle, delicious flavor to an entire stockpot.
Lemon balm is one of those spices and herbs that have uses beyond adding unusual flavor combinations to food items. Lemon balm’s minty-lemon flavor is used to make unique pesto, fish dishes, and ice creams, and can be served with fruits and in salads. It also has medicinal calming properties that make it great as a base for tea.
You may have to wait a while to experiment with this sun-loving “summer cilantro,” but it may be well worth it. This sun-loving plant can be used in dishes instead of cilantro, but in smaller quantities, as it has a stronger and spicier flavor. It can be added raw to soups, salads, tacos, fish dishes, and many other menu items, as garnish, adding a unique, foreign twist to the dishes. Customers should be warned about its appearance in dishes, though, as many have an aversion to it, similar to cilantro.,/p>
Chervil, also known as “French parsley,” is a delicate version of parsley. Its subtler taste makes it perfect for adding to fine dishes that may be overpowered by regular parsley. It can be used as a base green for salads, as garnish for almost any main course, or as a component of different seasonings. Its versatility and delicacy make it a great choice for cooking from the garden.
Lavender is most commonly associated with perfumes and potpourri. However, it can add a delicate twist to cookies, coffee cakes, spices and herbs mixes, flavored oils and butter, and homemade ice cream. Venues choosing not to grow their own herbs in a restaurant garden should make sure to purchase culinary-grade lavender when experimenting with the herb, since otherwise the plants tend to be full of pesticides.
The spices and herbs that are typically found in a restaurant or home kitchen are just a tiny fraction of the options available. By having a restaurant garden, businesses can hand-choose and hand-pick which herbs to use when cooking from the garden. Venues that practice cooking from the garden should minimize the use of pesticides as much as possible, if not entirely, to ensure that their herbs are fit for eating. By beginning to experiment with new spices and herbs, creating unusual flavor combinations, different seasonings, and new flavor profiles, restaurants can raise the level of the dishes they offer and set themselves apart.