I regularly use more than five herbs, but if I had to, I could reduce my collection to five. (We’re not counting spices. Herbs are the green leafy part of the plant, while spices are the seeds, bark, roots, etc. Some plants provide both: coriander seed and cilantro leaves, for example.)

1. Oregano: Useful in European and Tex-mex cuisines. Great on salads, pasta, pizza, and it’s never met a vegetable it didn’t get along with.

2. Basil: So sweet, and aromatic. Pair it with garlic in Italian food or adventure into Southeast Asia. Mix into eggs, spring rolls, or pizza sauce.

3. Mint: Perfect in vegetable salads, and pairs well with grains and chickpeas. Makes a great tea with ginger, if you care to brew it.

4. Dill weed: Drop it onto fish, grains, or into salads (not just cucumbers!).  Dill also works particularly well with root vegetables: potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc.

5. Thyme: More versatile than you think. Thyme is important to jerk sauces and Creole cuisines as well as classic European herb blends. Potato salad, salad dressing, mushroom dishes, soups, and herb breads all benefit from thyme.