Full of aromatic natural goodness, Italian herbs offer a unique and delicious flavor to any dish. Whether you’re whipping up your favorite pasta or creating something new, Italian herbs are a great way to add flavor and depth. But while many of us have this wonderful seasoning mix on our spice rack, what exactly do Italian herbs consist of?
What Are Italian Herbs?
Many people believe that this mix of herbs originated in America, but this is not technically true. The reason for this confusion is down to the fact that the Italian seasoning mix is not typically used in Italian cooking. This classic seasoning blend actually combines various herbs commonly used in Italian dishes – hence the name!
Italian herb mix is a blend of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sometimes sage or parsley. This aromatic herb blend has a robust and earthy flavor that perfectly complements the rich flavors of Italian cuisine. They’re also incredibly versatile, so you can use them in a range of dishes, from sauces and marinades to roasts and soups.
What Do Italian Herbs Taste Like?
As the Italian seasoning mix is a flavorful blend of herbs, the profile is quite complex. The dominant herbal notes in this blend are earthy and slightly pungent, with a hint of sweetness and a subtle hint of spice.
To get a better understanding of the flavor profile of Italian herbs, let’s take a closer look at each individual herb used in the mix:
- Basil: sweet and slightly peppery, with aromatic notes of anise
- Oregano: somewhat bitter and spicy, with a hint of mint
- Rosemary: woodsy and piney, with a hint of citrus
- Thyme: mild and slightly sweet, with herbal notes of lavender
- Marjoram: similar to oregano but with a more delicate flavor
Interestingly, these herbs are each a member of the mint family, yet they all have distinctive aromas and flavors. Collectively they create an aromatic blend that is perfect for adding flavor to dishes.
Making Your Own Italian Seasoning Blend
The classic herb mix you find in grocery stores is perfectly good, but if you want to get creative and make your own blend, why not try it out? All you need to do is combine equal parts of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram. For an added kick of flavor, you can add in some sage and parsley, too.
While I love fresh herbs, you do need to use dried herbs when making your own seasoning blend. This is because dried herbs will last longer, and the flavor will be more intense. If you have fresh herbs which need using, you can always dry your own herbs at home. This way, you’ll get the best of both worlds!
You could also add in some spices, such as garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. My garlic and herb seasoning mix is always a hit with my family!
Once made, store your homemade Italian seasoning blend in an air-tight container, like a sealed jar, in a dry place away from direct sunlight. This way, it will keep for a long time, and you can enjoy the delicious taste of Italian herbs in all your favorite dishes.
How to Use Italian Herbs
Italian herbs are incredibly versatile. The most common way to use them is by sprinkling them over pizzas or adding some to pasta dishes. However, there are various recipes to use this blend in, and a little goes a long way.
You can mix in your Italian herb mix to homemade spaghetti sauces, marinades, and dressings for a burst of flavor. This seasoning mix is also tasty when added to roasted vegetables and grilled meats. You can even use it to make a delicious Italian herb butter or even mix your Italian spices with olive oil and use it as a dip for bread.
For some recipe inspiration, be sure to check out some of my favorite recipes using Italian herbs:
- Italian Herb and Cheese Bread: Ideal for pizza night or serving alongside your favorite pasta dishes, this flavorful bread is sure to become a family favorite.
- Sheet Pan Sausage Dinner: This easy-to-make dish is packed with flavor thanks to the addition of Italian herbs.
- Herb Cream Cheese: This simple cream cheese spread will take your bagels and toast to the next level!
- Italian Peas: An ideal side dish for any meal, this tasty veggie recipe is packed with flavor.
- Quick Marinara: This speedy tomato sauce is so yummy and takes just 20 minutes to make.
- Herb Crusted Chicken: This Cheesecake Factory dupe is easy to whip up and so incredibly delicious.
- Italian Meatballs: Such a staple mid-week meal, these Italian meatballs are so good on their own or covered in pasta sauce.
- Herb Crusted Salmon: This easy and flavorful salmon dish would work perfectly with your Italian herb mix!
- 60-Minute Herb Bread: Super simple yet oh-so-good, my herb bread is a showstopper.
Whether you use store-bought blends or make your own, these herbs will bring a touch of Italy to your meals – all while enhancing the flavors of other ingredients in the dish. With so many amazing recipes you can make with Italian herbs, it’s easy to see why they’re such a pantry staple!