Thyme for some new flavor

thyme-woolly-flowersWhen I traveled to London, there was an amazing vegan restaurant that had the best Caribbean food I had ever tasted in my life. When I tasted the peas and rice, I was literally going “Mmmm” with every single bite.

I asked the chef what he put in it that made it so distinctive. In addition to the main ingredient – love – the one that caught my attention was thyme.

Thyme has a distinctive taste and aroma.   In dried spice form or its flowers and sprigs, certainly adds zest to your food. Thyme is a member of the mint family with oregano as its herbal cousin.

Medicinally it is…

  • antiviral
  • antibacterial
  • a healthy skin promoter (acne fighter)
  • immune and mood booster
  • high in Vitamin C
  • a cough suppressant
  • lowers blood pressure,
  • a disinfectant

Fresh thyme comes in bunches of sprigs or stems with leaves and flowers. Even the beautiful flowers are edible, delicious and more flavorful, but fresh thyme’s shelf life is only a week or week in half. Drying out the leaves/flowers and refrigerating in a zip loc bag helps tremendously.

Thyme is popular in Mediterranean as well as European cuisine and used in vinaigrettes, cheeses, marinades, pasta dishes, fresh tomato and pan sauces, roasted dishes (potatoes, etc.).   It is the main ingredient in the Mediterranean spice – zartar and one many ingredients in the French bouquet garni or garnished bouquet used in soups, stews, and various stocks.   Thyme in addition to other herbs such as rosemary, basil, tarragon to name a few and vegetables in leaf or stalk form (celery, carrots, etc.) are tied together in a bundle and cooked along with other ingredients.   The bundle is removed after cooking.   The flowers certainly make a colorful salad and are an excellent ingredient for vinaigrettes. Have you ever heard of thyme ice cream?  Thyme can definitely give your barbecue sauce and bean dishes an added zest. How about artichokes and fresh kale marinated in thyme?