Coriander: Huge bundles of fresh coriander (cilantro) are a familiar sight in Eastern Mediterranean markets, their warm, pungent aroma rising at the merest touch. The leaves impart a distinctive flavor to soups, stews, sauces and spicy dishes when added towards the end of cooking. They are also used sparingly in salads and yogurt dishes.
Dill: Feathery dill leaves have a mild aniseed taste, popular in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Greece and Turkey. Dill is chopped into fish and chicken dishes, as well as stuffings and rice. Pickled gherkins and cucumbers are often flavored with dill.
Marjoram: A versatile herb of which there are several varieties. It grows wild and is also cultivated and goes very well with red meats, game and tomato dishes.
Chives: Thin stems with a mild onion flavor, chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow. They are cut in short lengths and most often used raw. Tied in bunches, chives look as good as they taste.
Parsley: Flat leaf parsley is far more widely used in Mediterranean cookery than the tightly curled variety. Mixed with garlic and lemon zest, it makes a wonderfully aromatic gremolata, a colorful, refreshing garnish for scattering over tomato and rice dishes.
Oregano: is a wild form of marjoram, with a far more pungent flavor. The name means “joy of the mountains” in Greek, which is appropriate, as the scent makes walking in the mountains pure pleasure. Oregano is a very popular herb, widely used throughout the Mediterranean region. Oregano grows wild all over the Mediterranean. Its pungent scent seems to linger in the air.
Mint: One of the oldest and most widely used herbs. In Greece, chopped mint accompanies other herbs to enhance stuffed vegetables and fish dishes, and in Turkey and the Middle East finely chopped mint adds a cooling tang to yogurt dishes as well as teas and iced drinks.
Thyme: There are many types of thyme, from lemon thyme to plain garden thyme, ranging in color from yellow to grey-green. A few sprigs will add a warm, earthy flavor to slow-cooked meat and poultry dishes, pâtés, marinades, soups and vegetable dishes.
Rosemary: Cut from the pretty flowering shrub, rosemary grows well throughout the Mediterranean and is most widely used in meat cookery. Several sprigs, tucked under a roast chicken or lamb with plenty of garlic, impart an inviting warm, sweet flavor. A rosemary bush is a gift to any gardener who likes cooking Mediterranean food.
Sage: Native to the Northern Mediterranean, soft, velvety sage leaves vary in color from yellow to green to purple and have a strong, distinctive flavor which is used sparingly in meat and game dishes. Sage can be added to stuffings, nut dishes or pan-fried with pigeon and liver.
Tarragon: Long, lank tarragon leaves have a very individual aroma and flavor, most widely appreciated in French cookery. The herb is used generously in chicken and egg dishes, and with salmon and trout. Tarragon- flavored vinegar makes a delicious ingredient in a good mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce.