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Purple Onion

Fresh herbs can add a flavor full of spring.

Ah, Spring!

While it brings the weather we’ve been wishing for the last month (or more!), it also brings more activities and more chances to be outdoors. And it tends to be the time when home cooks who’ve been stewing, braising and slow cooking are ready to transition to lighter fare. It’s not really hearty hot dinner season anymore and it’s not quite light salad season yet.

For those of you looking for ways to enjoy the culinary transition of spring, we recommend looking to the herb garden and lightening up your menus with sauces that will give meat, seafood and veggies fresh zing. The possibilities are endless as parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, mint, basil and thyme start to green up the garden.

There are so many herb sauces from which to choose. You might have a favorite pesto, salsa verde or chimichurri sauce. You might be like some of the cooks we know who just head to the garden, clip some fresh herbs and do their own thing.

These recipes are really versatile. Just because the recipe says “Great with salmon” or “Perfect on chicken,” we encourage you to think outside of the box and use the herb sauces as you like.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Add to ramen noodles and shredded veggies. Serve warm or chill.
  • Stir an herb sauce into risotto
  • Instead of your usual mayonnaise or oil based dressing, try one of these in potato or chicken or tuna or egg salad.
  • Serve over scrambled eggs, a frittata or an omelet.
  • Dip away with any fresh crudités you’ve got.

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For the most part, the sauces we’re featuring are not traditional sauces. That is, they don’t all include thickening agents or reductions, they aren’t all cooked and they are to add flavor and moisture to the protein or vegetable after it is cooked, not before or during the cooking process.

They are, you might say, the icing on the cake.

The Spring Herb Sauce with Wine is bright, herby and a little wine-y. It takes a little cooking but it’s a nice way to brighten up roasted or grilled chicken or salmon and makes Sunday supper or company supper a little special.

The Tangy Dill Sauce is quick, easy and bright. We really like it on chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetables like grilled or roasted asparagus, carrots and radishes.

Chermoula is a pungent Moroccan herb sauce traditionally served with grilled fish. But, heck, why not give a roasted chicken or cauliflower florets a little love with this just-a-little-bit-out-of-the-ordinary recipe?

Light colored and buttery, the Lemon Chive Sauce is rich and a little goes a long way. Drizzle it over dishes rather than pouring it on and use it for a dipping sauce.

Finally, because we did mention cake up above, we share this recipe for Fresh Mint Basil Sauce. Serve it over ice cream, pound cake or as a dip with strawberries. You’ll end your meal on as bright a note as you started!

Allan Hathaway is the owner of The Purple Onion and WV Marketplace at Charleston’s Capitol Market. For more information, visit the web pages at and; or call The Purple Onion at 304-342-4414 and WV Marketplace at 304-720-2244. Email Allan at

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