A Matter of Thyme Wednesday, May 14 2014
Thyme plays a vibrant role in the Mediterranean Diet, is a primary ingredient in the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar and was one of the most widely used spices by Julia Childs in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, including her famous boeuf bourguignon. With a slightly lemony aroma and a mildly pungent flavor, this widely-used herb adds depth to just about any savory dish.
Thyme pairs well with oregano, rosemary, sage, mint, basil and bay leaf and wonderfully complements everything from chicken and fish to soups, tomatoes and omelets. It contributes to the beloved taste of Thanksgiving stuffing, enhances homemade pasta sauce and even dresses up olive oil and dipping bread.
A member of the mint family, there are well over 100 different varieties of this perennial herb, garden thyme being the most common. The second-most common type, lemon thyme has a stronger lemony fragrance, as the name implies, that tastes especially excellent with fish.
Besides its culinary usage, thyme was used as an embalming agent during ancient Egyptian times to preserve deceased pharaohs. It’s also a powerful antiseptic, and its essential oil, thymol, is one of the primary ingredients in Listerine mouthwash.
Is thyme one of your most heavily used spices? Do you have a favorite way to use it?