Have a Healthy Fourth of July with These 5 Tasty Herbs
Celebrating the Fourth of July would not be complete without a tasty barbecue, but you want to make sure that you are making foods that everyone will love. Maximize the flavor of any dish with the right herbs. In addition to adding heaps of flavor, fresh herbs will also make all of your dishes much healthier.
The key is choosing the herbs that tend to complement barbecue foods the most. Thankfully, you have many options to choose from so you are sure to make foods that are memorable for everyone who attends.
When you are choosing your herbs, make it easier by narrowing it down to five herbs that you want to use for your whole spread. Pick herbs that are versatile so that you can use them for several different items to give your spread a more uniform taste and look.
Picking Great Barbecue Food Herbs
You will be grilling out, so you want herbs that can stick to the food so that it is able to soak in and add some flavor. To help your herbs stick, you can use something like olive oil. This oil is healthy and it will not alter the taste of the herbs that you choose to use.
Basil is a versatile herb that can replace greens like lettuce on salads and sandwiches. This increases the flavor of the dish and adds a darker green color to enhance the presentation. You can also use basil as a rub for chicken and fish dishes to add some flavor to them. Basil pairs up well with lemon and black pepper if you are looking to create a nice mixture of flavors and spices for some of the dishes at your barbecue. If you want to marinate anything in basil overnight, place the basil in olive oil so that it has more sticking power.
To add a bit more basil to your barbecue, make a drink that incorporates some basil. Make a fresh lemonade as you normally would and then add some fresh basil leaves to the mix. You can also add some of your favorite alcohol to make a cocktail. With this hard lemonade, add either vodka, rum or gin to taste, as well as basil leaves and fresh slices of lemon as a garnish. To sweeten up the mixture, add some fresh cherries to either the virgin version or the alcohol version.
Arguably, this is the most popular herb for summer barbecues because you can use it for just about everything that you would put on a grill. Make a salad with cucumbers, Italian dressing, onions, tomatoes and fresh basil. Add some pepper and fresh lime to the mix for a really flavorful experience. Another option is making a nut mix to complement your barbecue meal on the Fourth of July.
The nut mix is the perfect appetizer and food for people to enjoy while waiting for the main meal to be served. Take walnuts or pecans and place them on a flat baking sheet. You want to place fresh basil across the nuts and toast them in an indoor or outdoor oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to also drizzle a little oil, such as olive oil, on the nuts before you toast them to prevent them from getting overly dry as they bake.
Rosemary is a great herb because it works well for red meats, fish and chicken. You can also use it to season a variety of vegetables that you can roast on the grill. If you serve a crusty bread at your Fourth of July barbecue, you can use rosemary to create a healthy dipping oil by combining olive oil with fresh rosemary herb. This oil dip also works for vegetables or you can use it as a brush before you roast your vegetables on the grill.
Create a marinade the night before for your chicken, fish and meat dishes with rosemary, olive oil and black pepper. Simply rub these ingredients onto the meat, chicken or fish and wrap them in tin foil. Let these sit in the refrigerator overnight and then start the grilling process in the foil to infuse the flavors into the food.
Cilantro is a refreshing herb that is perfect for summer barbecues because it works for so many different types of food. You can make a number of rice and potato dishes for your party using cilantro as the primary seasoning ingredient. You can also add this herb to your meats to freshen up their flavor. Add a sprig of cilantro and a slice of cucumber to your lemonade to create a great summer drink that your guests are sure to love and remember.
Mint is a great summer herb because it is fresh and it adds a hint of freshness to anything that you add it to. Start by creating a topping that incorporates Greek yogurt, fresh lemon, chives and mint. This topping works for baked potatoes, as well as chicken, red meat and fish option. Add fresh mint to your summer fruit salads and vegetable salads for a taste that is different than what you are used to. You can also add mint to fresh lemonade and any alcohol-based drinks to freshen up the flavor.
Using all five of these herbs on the various foods that make up your Fourth of July barbecue menu is sure to please all of your guests. Just make sure that everyone who attends knows which herbs you used in which dishes just in case someone has an allergy to a certain herb. You can create little place cards that go with each item on the menu. On these cards, put the name of the food and any additional herbs and ingredients that you used to make it. This makes it easy for your guests to choose the foods they will love most.