make your own Italian herb blend

[2 May 2010 | By | 7 Comments]

herbsI love herb blends! Here I am, situated in Italy—with no thyme. (Couldn’t resist the cheesy pun, however, I actually haven’t found fresh thyme easy to find in Tuscany). I love thyme, as does Mario Batali in his Italian Cookbook (Molto Italiano). That might feel like a side-note to you, but it is my main thumb-through cookbook during this year-abroad-in-Florence. So when one of his recipes calls for fresh thyme (and many of them do), I sometimes reach for this [a little more complex yet authentic!] herb blend that includes dried thyme.

(It seems I am always, always able to find fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil, sage, rosemary and bay). I also use this mixed, dried herb blend in soups and sauces. In fact, when some sauces call for white pepper (sometimes due to not putting black specks in a white sauce) this ‘whitish’ herb blend tips in nicely to pump up the Italian in the dish.

I already shared one very simple, yet classic herb blend; this is another. What I love about this blend is that it is a giant shout-out to many of the favorite herbs in Italy. No holding back, here are the herbs Italians love all mixed into one big pinch of flavor:

sale: salt
rosmarino: rosemary
aglio: garlic
salvia: sage
basilico: basil
maggiorana: marjoram
ginepro: juniper
timo: thyme
lauro: laurel
prezzemolo: parsely
coriandolo: coriander
finocchio: fennel

Although you may not be able to create this blend ‘exactamento’—you can come close. Buy fresh, dried herbs and blend. Buy fresh I mean: don’t forget dried herbs go bad. If you have owned a jar of dried year for a year? Its done. It has lost its ability to flavor. It probably smells like hay. Buy just the amount of herbs you need, or find a favorite blend that you use regularly so it doesn’t have a chance to stale. In fact, buy bulk herbs if you can—it is cost effective and regularly replenished. Capito?

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  • Bruce Mackh said (2 May 2010 at 6:02 am):

    Great blog! Loved reading!

    Best, Bruce Mackh

  • clea walford said (3 May 2010 at 1:25 am):

    yes, I also love your blog and will try out the new herb blend soon.

  • Chiara said (3 May 2010 at 1:53 am):

    Funny, I just bought some beautiful fresh thyme in Milano. Next time that I’m in Tuscany I’ll bring you some =)

  • Alisa - Frugal Foodie said (3 May 2010 at 7:01 am):

    juniper – now that isn’t one you see everyday in the states. What flavor does it add?

  • janelle said (4 May 2010 at 12:23 am):

    Bruce: why thank you!
    Chiara: finally found some at the TH garden mkt in Piazza Reppublic;) thanks and so happy you are in Milan!
    Clea: thank you thank you!!
    Alisa: ciao Alisa! Well, GIN is made from juniper… does that help? I just read a rub for leg of lamb that included juniper… might have to try it and find out more about this fun flavor!

  • MyKitchenInHalfCups said (7 May 2010 at 4:05 am):

    Hi Janelle,
    Loved your comment about dried herbs don’t flavor after a year. I remember dazzling my daughter in law just a little time ago by suggesting she smell a jar labeled basil and it was long past the hay smell to just plain O.
    So you live in Seattle (I was there last week) but are spending a year in Italy … you are living the dream life my dear!
    Lovely blog here! Hope you try the asparagus, it’s really lovely. Thanks for stopping by my place.
    And juniper, it really does liven things up doesn’t it.

  • Dried List Blog said (1 February 2011 at 8:36 am):

    Buy Dried Juniper…

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