Use, health benefits, harvesting… All about herbs: Femme Actuelle Le MAG

Tarragon, the most frenchy

It is also called dragon grass. For its aromatic power? One thing is certain: its minty, aniseed and even liquorice flavor is all the rage in vinegars and sauces (béarnaise, ravigote, tartare and gribiche) without forgetting the jellies (preferably chicken). Well rooted in French gastronomy since the 16th century, it is also a valiant companion of lobsters and fish. But it is better to handle it with precaution, force requires.

Did you know ? This cousin of sagebrush and wormwood is also consumed in the form of liqueur. We also meet him in Paco Rabanne pour Homme.

Parsley, it borders on madness

Mundane? Only if we limit ourselves to classic recipes: parsley, garnished bouquet, beef stew, gingham carrots, sarladaise potatoes … With both green, woody and slightly bitter notes, parsley has a good field of application wider. It turns out delicious with fatty fish, nuts, mint or coriander. We are also thinking of transforming it into pesto, instead of the eternal basil, or tabouleh, like the Lebanese. You can even serve it as a crisps, once brushed with oil and toasted in the oven (see the recipe on the site of Current Woman)!

Health: parsley is very rich in vitamin C and iron.

Good to know : flat leaf parsley has a generally stronger flavor than curly parsley.


The rosemary, heavy weights

With its spicy and flowery profile, rosemary brilliantly enhances wine sauces, focaccias, lambs or goat cheeses. But not only ! It also goes very well with lentils, eggplant, fennel, celery and even cauliflower. As a rule, at this strong flavor, you need a partner to measure. Avoid too subtle tasting fish and seafood. The octopus ceviche is sublimated, as are mackerel, tuna and swordfish. The perfect combos? Rosemary + butter + lemon; rosemary + garlic + wine; rosemary + honey + lemon.

Bold associations: with grapefruit, apples or figs.

False steps: combine with corn or serve as a salad. And add it at the end of cooking. Rosemary needs to be incorporated right at the start!

Good to know : The flavor of rosemary is more subtle in winter.

The chive, well chiseled

You can buy it frozen, freeze-dried or dehydrated, but nothing beats fresh chives! Easy to grow in pots, it grows back as soon as it is cut. Magic. We chisel it to envy, to slip it into our vinaigrettes, omelettes or dishes in sauce. Because this large stem, cousin of garlic, works wonderfully with cream or butter. Finally, did you know? Its purple flowers are just as delicious as they are lovely.

Bold associations: with avocado, paprika, dill, fennel or basil.

Health: Rich in iron, vitamin C and calcium, chives have been part of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia for thousands of years. It stimulates appetite and promotes digestion.

Pickup advice: connoisseurs prefer it wild: in spring, one watches for its small green points in the middle of the fields.

Thyme, bittersweet

Play divas like tarragon, which dominates everything in its path? Not his kind! Its bittersweet aromatic profile predestines it rather for supporting roles. We add it at the start of cooking and we prefer it dried. Versatile as a devil, Thymus vulgaris works wonders as much in savory dishes (casserole, beef bourguignon, cassoulets, hotpot…) as sweet (poached pears, caramel, apples or figs in the oven…).

Bold associations: with oysters, parsnips, cranberries, even leeks!

Picking tips: Picked around mid-July, just before flowering, it is at its most fragrant. Avoid uprooting and leave enough branches on each plant for it to continue to thrive.

Good to know : less known than common thyme, lemon thyme, with slightly larger leaves and lemony aroma, is also worth its weight in peanuts.


Basil, a real king

There are a hundred varieties of basil (from the Greek basileús, "king"). Many of them are revered around the world. But no question for the basil to rest on its laurels! In Asia, it is crossed alongside coconut milk and curry. In Thai cuisine, it is even used as a vegetable, in wok preparations. In Italy, he reigns supreme in the company of tomatoes and mozzarella. Also delicious in a strawberry or citrus syrup. As for desserts, it goes well with white chocolate, blueberries and apricots. Good to know: we add it at the last moment, in order to preserve its beautiful minty freshness.

Bold associations: basil + lemon + vanilla; Thai basil + pumpkin seed oil.

False steps: combine with tarragon and add at the start of cooking.

Thedill, Scandinavian star

Inseparable from the Swedish gravlax, this cousin of fennel gives nerve to fatty fish (herring and salmon at the head), seafood, even mayonnaises. It is also found in Slavic and Indian dishes. Used fresh if nothing, it goes very well with yogurt, kefir and cream, especially associated with cucumber or potato. The acidic flavors (lemon, vinegar) also sit well with him, hence his success in salad dressings.

Bold associations: with avocado (as a vinaigrette), but also with beans, peas and even beets… Dill also likes to mix with basil and mint.

Did you know ? Dill seeds are said to have a relaxing effect on muscles.

Oregano, o sole moi!

No Italian, Provençal or Greek cuisine without him. Pizza, Roman stew, ratatouille and moussakas owe their extra aromatic soul. With a sweet, slightly minty and peppery flavor, we like it with capers, tomatoes, anchovies and artichokes. But it would be wrong to limit oregano to Mediterranean cuisine. The chili con carne is also sublimated!

Did you know ? Notes of licorice, bay leaf, pepper and fennel … Greek oregano has a more aromatic character than common oregano.

False steps: combine it with basil.


The most exotic

The shiso

A real revelation, this Japanese herb with jagged edges. A great fan of raw fish, she is also the darling of perfumers, for its complex aromas of ice mint, anise, lemon, cumin … Delicious in an exotic fruit salad, with beef kebabs or tuna tartare. Use sparingly!


Freshness and greenness are its watchwords. Doping dishes in sauce, it smells good Asian cuisine. We like it with coconut milk, peanuts, pineapple or mango but also with lamb, goat cheese or just potato.

The mint

Did you know ? The couscous is steamed over simmered vegetables in a mint-flavored broth. This fragrant herb also slips into the yogurt sauces that accompany the tagines.

But also these herbs…

The savory

Its aroma recalls that of thyme. It is sometimes added to the cooking water of pulses. Also delicious with peas and fresh beans.


Bitter and slightly harsh, it scents pastis but also broths, soups and stuffings or even fruit compotes.

Fresh verbena

Some chefs use it to flavor peach or pear broths, ice creams and pies. Apples and Mirabelle plums are also sublimated.

The chervil

More complex and volatile than parsley, this cousin of carrot surprises with its peppery, fennel and licorice notes. A mainstay of many French sauces, it is also a must for our omelettes.

Read also :

⋙ 5 tips for preserving aromatic herbs

⋙ Video: how to create an aromatic planter?

⋙ Aromatic herbs: how to cook them and their health benefits

⋙ Top 5 of our favorite aromatic herbs: their cooking and health uses