8 Ways to Use Up Fresh Herbs

Whenever our parsley plant flowers, we leave it be and let it go to seed. The result is glorious. Parsley grows in the garden wherever it can fit – in the flower bed, and even between the cracks in the pavement. The back yard is fragrant and we have ample parsley to spare for the caterpillars. However, this means we get a lot – and I mean a lot of parsley. Out the front, we have a humble herb garden with thyme, mint and rosemary, although it is tiny when compared to our parsley forest!

We love herbs, and their abundance means we know heaps of ways to use up not just parsley, but all sorts of herbs. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, we have all been in the situation where we only needed 1/4 cup of fresh herbs  for a recipe, but the store only sells giant bunches! If you’ve found yourself in a herb conundrum, take a look at the list below for some ideas on how to use them up and avoid excess food waste.

Make a pesto

Have you got basil? Because pesto is the Holy Mother of using up basil! This has got to be one of the simplest ways to make use of basil, and definitely one of the tastiest. One batch can easily require 2 cups of tightly packed basil. Pesto is great in pasta, but did you know that you can also use it to dress salads, or make herby garlic bread? If you don’t want to use it within the week, pesto can be frozen into cubes using an ice-cube tray.

Check out this recipe for vegan pest by Minimalist Baker here, or it you can’t live without parmesan, here is a more traditional recipe from Taste.com.

Freeze herbs in oil for cooking.

Fill an ice-cube tray with olive oil and herbs so that you always have fresh herbs for cooking. This works well for herbs like oregan and parsley, which are found in a lot of sauces. Alternatively, frozen thyme and rosemary cubes can be melted then brushed on vegetables for roasting!

Make some chimichurri

Chimichurri is everything great about tangy, spicy, herby flavours. Chimichurri is made with parsley, garlic, olive oil, chilli and vinegar, and may include other herbs like oregano, coriander (AKA cilantro) and/or mint (the more herbs the better!). It is traditionally served atop meat dishes, but we enjoy it with hummus and roasted veges, or to flavour up a buddha bowl.

Here‘s a lovely recipe for my favourite green sauce by Laughing Spatula.

Use them in a salad

I think many people forget that herbs can be used in salad. Either as whole leaves or chopped up, soft-leafed herbs like parsley, coriander, tarragon and mint can add a real pop of freshness to your salads. Herbs can also be incorporated into salad dressings. Take a look at this Minty Cucumber and Tomato Salad (Allrecipes) or this Mixed Green Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette (Epicurious) for some inspiration .

Dry them

Drying herbs is a great way to preserve their flavours for future use, and you might find taking up this hobby of you have your own herb garden. Having your own supply of dried herbs means you don’t have to buy them, resulting in less packaging and processing waste. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and marjoram dry well using the using the hanging technique, but higher-moisture herbs might require the use of a food dehydrator.

Take a look at HGTV’s guider here if you’re interested on how to dry both low- and high-moisture herbs.

Get saucy

Pasta sauce can be both easy and cheap to make, freezes well, and can be packed with herby goodness from parsley, thyme, rosemary and basil! If making your sauce from fresh tomatoes, roasting them with thyme, rosemary and garlic, then adding both the tomatoes and roasting juices to the pot adds delicious and complex flavours to your sauce. If using canned tomatoes, add some sprigs of thyme to impart some of those beautiful flavours into your sauce. Make a giant pot of hearty, herby sauce, freeze it and you will have meals for weeks to come!

Infuse your water

Carrying around a water bottle is one of the tenants of using less plastic – and it also saves you money. Infusing your water with mint makes it just that bit more refreshing, and it might make you feel a little…. Instagrammable ;). Add fruit like lemon, lime or cucumber, and you won’t even feel like buying that soft drink. I have also seen more adventurous combinations, such as ‘Blueberry, Lemon and Rosemary’ and ‘Strawberry, Basil and Lemon’ which can be found here at Culinary Hill. If you decide that you really like infused water, you might be interested in getting yourself an infused water bottle like this one. It has a built in filter so you can enjoy your loose-leafed iced tea or infused water without having to worry about swallowing bits of tea, herbs or fruit.

Infuse some oil

Herb infused oil is soooo delicious! It can be used in salad dressings and sauces, but is yummy enough to be used on its own to dress salads and even pasta! Herbs like rosemary and thyme are fairly common. Infused oil using herbs like lavender, sage and mint can also be used for beauty, wellness and relaxation. If you plan on using them for cooking, just make sure to use them fairly quickly, since homemade herb oil doesn’t last quite as long as the store-bought stuff (which, of course, is full of preservatives). The Kitchn has compiled a short list of recipes for culinary infused oils, including rosemary and basil here. If you plan of infusing some of these beautiful aromatic oils, you will need some airtight glass bottles. These ones at Biome are cute and can also be used for storing liquids like apple cider vinegar or agave honey bought from bulk food stores!

Did any of these ideas give you some herby inspiration? Have you got a great way you use up fresh herbs? Please let me know in the comments 🙂


(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)


2 comments on “8 Ways to Use Up Fresh Herbs

  1. I’ve infused water with lemon; really refreshing and dropped fresh mint leaves into a cup of black coffee. (Doesn’t seem like a nice combination, but it is delicious.) lovely post.


    • Thanks for reading marymtf. Wow, I’ve never heard of putting fresh mint in coffee… but it sounds intriguing. Too bad I dont like coffee! But a mint hot chocolate sure does sound good right now 😀


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