Whenever I see the fresh herb plants in the supermarket I'm always so inspired, but quite often once I get them home they just end up wilted on my window ledge. But maybe we should be paying more attention to these little guys... they are more powerful than we think!
A recent study by the US Department of Agriculture found thyme, rosemary, sage, peppermint and particularly oregano (also known as wild marjoram) to be highly antioxidant. In fact, oregano has four times more free radical-fighting antioxidants than blueberries.
Rosemary can help boost the immune system. It is especially useful at exam time because it increases blood flow to the brain, improving concentration. The menthol in peppermint stops muscle spasms helps treat heartburn, indigestion, flatulence and nausea.
Basil and sage are anti-inflammatories. Both can help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel conditions. Basil and thyme have antibacterial qualities, and adding either to salad dressings can help remove a diarrhoea-causing bacteria from salad leaves. Parsley helps kidney function, relieves gout and combats anaemia.
Fresh herbs are more health-boosting than dried ones, so try to use one table spoon of chopped fresh herb for the equivalent of dried whenever cooking. Fresh herbs will freeze well if you have a surplus and want to prolong their shelf life.
So next time you see those little pots of leafy superheroes in the supermarket... why not give them a go!
EASY PEA-SY HERBY RISOTTO (Serves 4)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
300g Arborio rice
2 handfuls of frozen or fresh garden peas
1 litre hot vegetable stock
Fresh parsley, basil, oregano and thyme, a handful of each, chopped
125g grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to season
1 - Saute the onion and garlic in a pan with 50g butter and olive oil for 5 minutes.
2 - Add the rice to the pan and stir well to coat the grains with the butter and oil. Tip in the peas and start to add the hot vegetable stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed. Continue adding stock until the rice is creamy but the grains are still firm.
3 - Mix in the fresh herbs and remaining butter. Add the parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Cover and leave to rest before serving.