Long a staple of Middle Eastern cooking, thyme is one of the more versatile herbs. It pairs well with other herbs and seasonings, can be used chopped or whole and imparts a woodsy, warm flavour to any dish. Though widely available in fresh and dried forms, thyme is easy enough to grow at home. Keep some on hand for use in soups and stews, adding to roasted vegetables and enhancing your favourite grilled foods.
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Make a bouquet garni to flavour soups, broths and sauces. Rinse fresh thyme and pat dry with a paper towel. Tie it together with bay leaves and fresh sprigs of parsley, or place all the herbs in a cheesecloth and tie to close. By tying together or using a cheesecloth, you can easily remove the herbs before serving the dish.
Use fresh thyme in marinades, casseroles, with roasted vegetables and in bread doughs. Rinse thyme and pat dry. Pick the leaves off the stem prior to using. Do not add the stem to the dish, as it's too tough to consume. Chop or mince the thyme and use according to your recipe.
Combine dried thyme with other dried herbs to make herbes de Provence, a staple in French cooking. Commonly combined herbs include basil, rosemary, sage, lavender, savoury, marjoram and fennel. Herbes de Provence adds depth to poultry, meat and vegetables.
Substitute dried thyme when fresh is unavailable. A teaspoon of dried thyme is equivalent to a tablespoon of the fresh herb. Dried thyme is especially well-suited in stuffings for chicken and turkey.
Pair fresh or dried thyme with other herbs and seasonings to suit your tastes. Using thyme with parsley, garlic, ginger or onion brings out the complexity of those flavours and rounds out the overall dish.
Tips and warnings
- If you prefer a more pronounced thyme flavour, add chopped thyme near the end of cooking. For a mellow background note, add thyme near the start of cooking.
- Use discarded stems in place of or alongside wood chips to enhance the flavour of grilled foods.
- Fresh thyme keeps in the refrigerator for about two weeks as long as it doesn't get wet. Dried thyme keeps its flavour up to a year.
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