The Long-Lasting Substitute for Fresh Herbs We Didn’t Know We Needed
And no, it’s not the dried ones.
Fresh herbs can bring a dish to a whole new level, but anyone who’s kept fresh herbs knows it only takes a few days for a gorgeous green bunch to wilt. Or worse – dissolve into an unrecognizable bag of liquid. One might think the logical solution would be to turn to bottles of dried herbs, but the truth is, they’re just not the same. So, what do you do when you want the shelf life of dried herbs, but the bright flavor of fresh bundles? Semi-dried herbs.
Let us explain.
A true halfway point between fresh and dried, semi-dried herbs bring the bright flavor of fresh herbs without the delicate maintenance. One of our favorite semi-dried herb products is the “Lightly Dried” line from McCormick-owned brand, Gourmet Garden. The line includes semi-dried cilantro, parsley, Italian herbs, ginger, chives, chili pepper and basil (a best-seller, according to the company).
Semi-dried herbs aren’t just for home cooks. Test kitchen chefs swear by them too. The reason? “Convenience,” says Melissa Gaman, a recipe developer at Food Network Kitchen. “They are already chopped and they last for quite a while once opened without any special care, so you don’t have to worry about finishing that half bunch of cilantro before it yellows or gets slimy.” Melissa says the flavor mimics that of fresh herbs and she finds them versatile. The herbs even bloom themselves when they get wet or warmed up. “You don’t need any extra work to get them there.”
“I have stirred them into chili, sprinkled on roasted vegetables and added to salads for a flavor boost.” If you’re not sure what to get first, Melissa recommends the basil because it “has the boldest flavor of the three.”
Curious? Give the semi-dried herbs a try in dishes like Geoffrey Zakarian’s Pantry Pasta, Food Network Kitchen’s Lemon-Basil Chicken with Zucchini Noodles and Creamy, Garlicky Shrimp Skillet (pictured above), also from the kitchen.
The next time you grab a bunch of fresh herbs that you can’t possibly use up in a week’s time, opt for a little container of semi-dried greens instead. Although, we won’t be surprised if you start to reach for these guys all the time.