Want a simple way to take your meals to the next level? Look no further than fresh herbs. While the dried stuff is great in a pinch, there’s really nothing like the vibrant colors, smells, and flavors of a fresh basil pesto, a pasta salad flecked with dill, or a salad brightened up with cool mint leaves. As a bonus, fresh herbs are packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, making them smart additions to your dishes.
So with farmer’s markets in full force this season, pick up a few of those fragrant bunches and make them the stars of your summer table with these 31 recipes.
Nothing sings “summer” like a fresh basil pesto, and with this recipe, even vegans can get in on the seasonal sauce. With cashews, butter beans, and nutritional yeast instead of olive oil and cheese, it’s just as rich and nutty as the original.
With barely any cooking required, plus ingredients and colors like these, this salad is summer on a plate. The best part might be the flecks of fresh basil from the dressing in each bite.
Instead of a heavy sauce, use lots of fresh basil and lemon zest to brighten up your pasta and toss it in just enough nutty vegan pesto for some healthy fats. It’s light enough to eat for lunch, but special enough to whip up for date night at home.
No worries if you don’t have actual Thai basil on hand for this recipe; the regular kind works just as well, with sesame oil, chili paste, and soy sauce stepping in to add some authentic flavor. Like any good stir-fry, this one comes together in mere minutes, making it the perfect option for when you have plenty of produce, but not a lot of time.
Most of the time, garlic bread involves an alarming amount of butter and dried herbs. This lightened-up version opts for just two tablespoons of olive oil and a whole lot of fresh basil. Not only is the flavor better, but that vibrant green color is not to be missed.
Lemon and basil are pretty perfect together. Add garlic into the mix, and it’s a combo made in savory-food heaven. Slather it on pork chops and toss them on the grill, and you may not want to eat anything else all summer.
Cooked brown rice makes this vegan soup come together faster than you can say “comfort food” and provides some extra fiber for good measure. An entire cup of basil adds a whole lot of fresh flavor in the middle of the hearty carbs and rich coconut milk.
Peas and mint are a classic combo, so there’s no doubt that smushing them together in a spread will turn out well. Throw broad beans into the mix for added smoothness and protein, and you’ve got the easiest—and prettiest—green appetizer ever.
If you’ve never made mint pesto before, don’t wait a second longer. It’s bright, refreshing, and livens up anything you stir it into, especially when you use this version, which dramatically cuts down the oil from a standard pesto recipe.
Here’s a more warm-weather-appropriate version of the roasted lamb with mint chutney you’d find at a holiday table. Thanks to a super-fresh, light, and no-cook chimichurri sauce featuring lots of mint and lemon juice, this lamb-and-potatoes dinner is satisfying without feeling like too much.
Switch up your grain game by using pearl couscous for this salad. Tossed with an entire bunch of fresh mint (finally, none will go to waste!), plus juicy orange wedges, creamy feta, and walnuts for crunch, it gives you something to love in every bite.
If you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant and tried samosas, you’ll remember that they usually come with a refreshing mint chutney. This recipe has the same idea, with similar flavors, except that instead of deep-fried dough, this sauce is getting drizzled onto protein-rich, grilled chicken wings.
Rather than dunking your meatballs in a rich gravy, pair them with a lighter cucumber and mint sauce. Using three whole cups of the herb, it’s the ultimate cooling complement to the slightly spicy balls.
Nothing says “weekend” like smoked salmon at a leisurely brunch. Now you can feel those same vibes at home—just don’t skimp on the fresh dill; half a cup livens up the flavors in this frittata even after its 20-minute bake.
Throwing herbs into a mix of roasted veggies does some pretty magical things for their flavor. In this case, it’s a whole bunch of dill that’s scattered onto a pile of cauliflower, Tuscan kale, and potatoes to give it just the right amount of freshness.
Half a cup of dill jazzes up this green goddess-style avocado dressing, and it goes great with long, spiralized cucumber “noodles.” Crunchy, creamy, and cold, this is a perfect side to any summer table.
Warm weather = picnics. Picnics = portable food. Portable food = this super-simple orzo salad, bulked up with protein-rich shrimp and feta, made colorful with cucumbers and red onion, and brought to life with lemon and lots of chopped dill. This dish will go fast at any get-together, so don't expect leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Herbs are a huge part of Persian cooking, and this authentic “Baghali polo” dish is no exception. A big bunch of fresh dill is stirred into the steaming pile of rice and lima beans, and even more is sprinkled on top to complete the meal.
Vegetarian tacos can either be goopy, cheesy fiascos, or they can be fresh, flavorful, and just filling enough. With roasted sweet potatoes and black beans; a touch of leafy greens; and a dill-infused, cashew-based sauce drizzled on top, guess which category this recipe falls into?
This recipe combines several ingredients you may not think to use together: fish and turmeric, coconut oil and tarragon. But lightly sautéed and tucked into tortillas, they’ll have you wondering why you didn’t try them sooner.
Packed with potatoes, peppers, and green onions, this salad is a fantastic way to use a bunch of summer veggies at once. Instead of mayo overtaking the flavors of the produce, fresh tarragon and a shallot-based dressing let every component of the dish shine through.
A healthier, more summery take on green beans almondine, this salad swaps butter for olive oil, adds some quinoa for extra protein and carbs, and tosses in plenty of fresh cherries and tarragon for seasonal flair. Easily portable, it makes a great light lunch or a potluck dish.
Even if you aren’t the tea party type, you’ll definitely be a fan of these sandwiches. Who wouldn’t be? Packed with roasted turkey, almond, and tarragon-mayo spread, and with the crusts cut off, they’ll win over every guest.
No boring grilled chicken here. Lemon and tarragon make a pretty unbeatable team in the “sauce” that coats the perfectly seared drumsticks and makes them insanely good.
Several ingredients take these simple roasted potatoes over the top: oregano, which crisps up in the oven along with the spuds; lemon zest, which adds extra citrusy flavor; and feta and Parmesan cheese, which really don’t require an explanation.
We’re suckers for food on a stick and quick meals, and this one scores big points for checking both boxes. The salmon only needs to soak in the classic lemon-oregano-olive oil marinade for 15 minutes or so before it’s ready to be skewered and grilled.
The fresh oregano in the homemade tomato sauce and the cashew-based “Parmesan” for these easy pizzas makes such a huge difference from the dried stuff. What’s even better, the vegan Parm recipe makes a good amount, so you can enjoy leftovers throughout the week to sprinkle on... well, everything.
Just because it’s hot out doesn’t mean that warm comfort food is totally out of the question. Whip up this hearty spaghetti-and-meatballs dinner, but give it a summer touch by adding a heap of oregano into both the sauce and the meat mixture.
Give the spiralizer a break and go with old-fashioned diced zucchini for this incredible side. Sautéed with fresh garlic and oregano, it’s a three-ingredient dish that’ll get five-star reviews.
Oregano isn’t the most conventional pesto ingredient, but it’s a delicious departure from the regular basil variety. This one goes even further outside the box, using a totally vegan recipe, with nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor, pecans instead of pine nuts, and just one tablespoon of olive oil for the whole batch.