Everyone thinks that working with herbs is difficult. Most people don’t know how to use them because they don’t know what flavors go well with each herb. That is a big reason why seasoning blends are so common. Over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight a few different herbs and share my favorite uses, whether they are sweet or savory applications. This week, I am going to share some tips and tricks I have with thyme!
I love thyme. It has a very subtle, earthy, flavor. I use it mostly in savory applications, but I have also used it in desserts. I use a lot of thyme in both Mexican and Italian food. It adds that earthiness, and helps balance some of the more pungent herbs and spices used in both of those cuisines. I also use it a lot in soups and stews. It adds that earthy, warm flavor that is associated with comfort food. While paring thyme with individual vegetables, I like to choose ones that have a lot of sweetness or acidity. Once again, the earthiness of the thyme balances out the flavors to create a well rounded experience. I like pairing thyme with tomatoes because they have a good amount of acidity, and when cooked there is a sweetness that comes out. Carrots, parsnips, and beets are also great. They all have a sweetness that is balanced out well with a little bit of thyme. One of my favorite things to do is add a little bit of lemon to hit even more flavor profiles. With the combination of thyme, lemon, and one of the root vegetables; there is a sweet flavor, a subtle hint of savory, and an acid. In my opinion, I can’t think of any better combination!
For desserts, I have found that thyme pairs well with lemon and orange. The tart citrus plays well with the earthiness from the thyme, and the sweetness from the dessert. I also like thyme with berries for the same reason. A lot of berries have an underlying tartness, which goes well with the herb.
Overall, I think that thyme is one of the most versatile herbs. Thyme can be used alone, but it is essential for balance in many cuisines, including a traditional Thanksgiving feast. It can pair well with sweet and savory flavors. It also just so happens to be common enough that most people probably already have it in their pantries.
I hope this tip was useful. I honestly didn’t use thyme until about two years ago because I didn’t know what it tasted like. My number one suggestion would be to try it in various dishes. If it doesn’t work, then keep trying. That is the best way to learn how to develop flavors using individual herbs.