Herbs brighten flavors with springy freshness: Parsley, dill, chives, cilantro, mint, basil, oregano and even the lesser known fenugreek, to name a few. They permeate dishes with a characteristically fresh bite and hold close ties to ethnic foods, including Thai, Italian, Indian and Mexican. Herbs fuel the flavor that give dishes their namesake appeal. In Plymouth, a garden of herbs is yours with a range of dishes that will please your palate. Herb up this month with pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches and more.
Creekside Café at Crowne Plaza
Thinking about firing up your grill? The Crowne Plaza will take care of all the fuss and work for you with delicious results. Enter the pork porterhouse dinner: This traditionally hearty meat and potato-style entrée boasts a trio of herbs. Fresh house-made herb butter heightens the meal with flavors of parsley and oregano, and fresh chives finish the dish with an oniony acidity. Sides of soup, vegetables and a starch make a big meal even bigger. “The dish is definitely for the meat and potato lover,” restaurant manager John Wirkes says. $22.95.
ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD
When you get your pizza, don’t forget your greens—in the form of an Italian chopped salad. Infused with characteristic Neapolitan herbs (parsley, oregano and basil), a medley of sliced and diced fresh vegetables (and a few extras), it’s the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Crisp romaine lettuce coated in Italian herb dressing tastes refreshing, and a generous helping of tomatoes, onions, black olives, cucumbers and seasoned croutons add to the fun. The toss packs plenty of protein, too, from shaved ham, salami, peperoni and bacon bits, plus a topping of cheddar and parmesan cheeses. The salad is substantial enough to be eaten alone or shared with your party, yet light enough you’ll still have room for the main dish. $10.29.
SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN HOAGIE
Davanni’s Pizza and Hot Hoagies
Hot, made-to-order hoagies are a specialty at Davanni’s. The southwestern chicken stands apart with its zippy flavor profile, infused with herbs. Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and seasoned oven-roasted chicken make a distinctively striking ensemble. The quality, all-white breast meat boasts a style of cut that’s thicker than your typical sandwich. The bun is dressed up and grilled with garlic butter flecked with parsley. Fresh cilantro goes into the sauce that tops the hot hoagie. Still, the sandwich is not overwhelmingly spicy; the level of heat is just enough to keep things interesting. “When we say ‘distinctive,’ [we mean] you can’t get this any place else,” says Tim Huberty, marketing director. $7.89/whole, $4.55/half.
LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP
The soup’s always on at Dufner’s, averaging 32 soups in 20 days, according to owner Raj Kumar. It’s only to be expected that herbs go into the pot now and again. A dash of garlic salt and pepper livens up the loaded baked potato soup. A sprinkle of chives makes a fresh green garnish. Served piping hot, the creamy soup is pure comfort food. Think: bacon, potatoes, sour cream and other stick-to-your-ribs goodies you would pile on a baked potato. “Basically like when you eat a baked potato, [that’s how] we make soup,” Kumar says. “Everything’s in there.” $4.49/bowl, $9.99/quart to-go.
Vegetarian dishes don’t skimp on flavor at India Palace. The complex flavor of the fenugreek herb makes the matar paneer a real palate pleaser. A chunky gravy of fresh green peas cooked with tomatoes, onions and these herbs coats fresh house-made Indian (paneer) cheese. As an authentic North Indian dish, the matar paneer leans more towards vegetal than spicy. The lush, earthy taste of fenugreek is evident in every creamy bite. To soak up the precious sauce, use the house-made naan bread or steaming basmati rice. Sometimes the matar paneer appears on the lunch buffet, but it always can be ordered on its own or to go. $12, lunch buffet $10.99; larger take-out sizes available.
SPECIAL SPRING ROLL
Ketsana’s Thai Restaurant
What would a Thai meal be without a spring roll appetizer? You would miss out on a real treat. While the regular spring roll is a more popular standby, the special spring roll serves as a jazzy alternative. The pairing of mint and cilantro is the “special” secret: These herbs pack a wallop of garden-green taste into an eclectic mix of Asian vegetables and meat. Picture lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, rice noodles and shredded pork skin encased in a delicately thin rice paper. Everything is wrapped up tight into a delectable cold roll. Dunk into a side of homemade spicy sauce (more herbs), and your taste buds will rejoice. $5.75 for two.
ADEREZO DE CILANTRO (CILANTRO DRESSING)
La Cocina de Ana
Herbs find their way into dressings all the time, but La Cocina de Ana’s super flavorful cilantro dressing is deliciously different. The olive oil-based dressing is an ideal topper for salads, crudités, meats and even pasta. The authentic Mexican condiment showcases cilantro’s robust flavors, sans the spice. While the aderezo de cilantro is green, it is not to be mistaken for guacamole. The similarity stops with the color and shape of the container. “The fresh cilantro turns very bright green and looks almost creamy, but of course there’s no cream,” owner Anna Rayas says. $4.99/chico (extra small), $9.99/small, $17.99/medium.
Solos Pizza Café
A pizza worthy of a queen? Yes, and the humble herb basil is a key player. Let’s explain: Legend has it the pizza margherita was created especially for Queen Margherita of Italy during her visit to Naples in 1889. The colors of the Italian flag—basil for green, tomatoes for red, cheese for white—paid homage to the royal occasion. Today the margherita pizza remains a wildly popular dish the world over, and Solos Pizza Café does its tradition proud. The light, flavorful pizza is perfect for the tomato lover, says owner Brian Banick. Organic tomato sauce of pungent red, slivers of fresh, deep-green basil, and large discs of mozzarella keep the tradition alive. $6.95/7-inch, $8.65/10-inch.