The 17 Best Ways to Use Up Leftover Herbs

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Some foods are rare and precious, like truffles and caviar—you wouldn’t think of savoring them in anything but the slightest of slivers or daintiest spoonfuls. Others, however, present themselves in spades. Herbs rank pretty high up there on the least endangered list. Buying them at the store means investing in a hefty bunch, while planting them in your garden can be a risk because they might set their sights on empire formation and colonize a good chunk of backyard real estate.

If you’ve got more fresh herbs on your hands than you know what to do with, fear not. There are plenty of recipes that will help you use them up in liberal amounts. Here are seventeen ideas for turning those sprigs into something much better than fodder for the compost.

1. Classic Pesto Pasta Salad

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Pasta with pesto has probably helped save many an herb from hitting the trash bin. Since pesto can be pretty powerful stuff, all the dish really needs to go along with it is a few simple toppings like tomato and mozzarella. This recipe shows you how it’s done. Get our Classic Pesto Pasta Salad recipe.

2. Pesto and Pea Lasagna

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You could also tuck that pesto in between the layers of lasagna and let it get all cozy with a good smothering of ricotta. Heck, your new mantra should be “got herbs? Break out the cheese.” Get our Pesto and Pea Lasagna recipe.

3. Breakfast Sandwich with Pesto-Scrambled Eggs and Crispy Pancetta

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Simple scrambled eggs are all fine and dandy, but they’re even better with a healthy handful of chopped herbs. We like to work some pesto right into the pan before plopping them onto a filling breakfast sandwich. Get our Breakfast Sandwich with Pesto-Scrambled Eggs and Crispy Pancetta recipe.

4. Cilantro-Almond Pesto

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Pesto can also be your secret weapon for just about any sandwich. This cilantro pesto adds a lovely punch to meats, cheeses, and more. Get our Cilantro-Almond Pesto recipe.

5. Salmon Chowder with Cilantro Pesto

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Heavy soups like chowder tend to be all about the cream. A generous dollop of green helps break that richness, however, adding some freshness into the mix. Get our Salmon Chowder with Cilantro Pesto recipe.

6. Garlic Dill Pickles

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You can pickle that! Classic cucumber pickles like these practically demand lots of dill flavor, although the herb-infused possibilities definitely don’t stop there. Try adding some sprigs to any batch of savory pickles. Get our Garlic Dill Pickles recipe.

7. Argentine Chimichurri Sauce

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Chimichurri does things for grilled meats that are simply sublime. The grassy flavors of the herbs and the acidic snap of vinegar are a perfect foil to all that big smokiness. Get our Argentine Chimichurri Sauce recipe.

8. Herbed Risotto

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Risotto should never be too over the top or fussy. Our herbed risotto recipe shows that something as simple as a large handful of parsley, tarragon, or basil can help set it apart. Get our Herbed Risotto recipe.

9. Tabbouleh

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True tabbouleh really puts the emphasis on the herbs. This recipe brings parsley and mint front and center, showing them off in their most garden-fresh form. Get our Tabbouleh recipe.

10. Herbed Potato Salad

Potato salad shouldn’t be shy in taking on lots of flavors. It should be tart, forward, and pack a wallop. Ours really embraces what it’s all about. Get our Herbed Potato Salad recipe.

11. Fennel, Parsley, and Celery Salad

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With some salads, the dressing seems to do all the work. Here, however, a full hand of parsley lets the greens do the talking, too. Get our Fennel, Parsley, and Celery Salad recipe.

12. Mint Syrup

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An abundance of mint could be used toward making muddled drinks like mojitos. But a syrup brings that flavor all the same, and without the soggy bits of leaf floating in the glass. Get our Mint Syrup recipe.

13. Garlic-Mint Yogurt Spread

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A dip like this goes well with just about everything: fries, burgers, seafood, veggies, you name it. Consider it your new alternative to mayonnaise. Get our Garlic-Mint Yogurt Spread recipe.

14. Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto

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Southeast Asian cuisines love to get heavy handed with the herbs. In this Thai-style roasted fish recipe, cilantro and mint are rubbed on to infuse every inch with aromatics. Get our Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto recipe.

15. Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

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Without a generous layer of herbs and a few dipping sauces to match, summer rolls would be pretty plain. We fill ours with plenty of basil, cilantro, and mint. Get our Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce recipe.

16. Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Salad

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This herb and veggie-focused salad with shrimp has something special going for it: few combinations could be so flavor forward while also being incredibly light. Get our Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Salad recipe.

17. Quick Chicken Pho

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Pho is the perfect excuse to simply take your herbs and pile them on straight. Let’s just hope you’re the sort of person who takes their entire plate of seasonings and dumps it all in the bowl. Get our Quick Chicken Pho recipe.

Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.

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