make your own Italian herb blend
I 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?