To chop herbs, it is essential to use very sharp knives so that you can cut them without crushing them. It is also important to make the proper hand movement: rest your palm on the cutting board and place your fingers stretched out on the tip of the knife in order to guide the movement.
Here are some tips for chopping specific herbs.
If you preparing a marinade, tear apart the fronds. Otherwise, chop with other herbs. Fennel has a delicate, fresh flavor and makes a lovely decorative element. Fennel pairs lends itself nicely to fish dishes.
If you have to prepare a roast, use the whole sprig. For the other preparations, however, remove the leaves from the sprigs and chop. Widespread in the Mediterranean area, rosemary can be used when marinating the meat and has an intense flavor.
Use whole sage leaves in marinades and roasts. Use chopped sage for the other preparation, baring in mind that chopped sage has a much more intense flavor. It goes well with succulent flavors of some pastas and meat dishes.
Parsley is one of the most frequently used herbs in cooking and is suitable for a variety of uses. Wash parsley before you chop it and always remember to dry it because it spoils easily.
Both fresh and dried marjoram leaves are often used in Italian cooking, giving dishes a strong, but sweet aroma. Marjoram is the ideal herb to flavor pizzas, stews, stuffing, meatballs, quiche, mushrooms, vegetables, sauces, salads, cheeses, shellfish, vinegars and herbed olive oil. Marjoram leaves, whose flavor is intensified by drying, should be stored in a glass or porcelain jar, away from light and moisture.
Grown in the Mediterranean basin, thyme comes in several varieties. From the lemon to purple thyme, it is usually used to flavor fish and vegetables. If the leaves come off easily, they do not need to be chopped before use.
Basil leaves are often used whole. When a recipe calls for chopped basil, try tearing them by hand rather than using a knife to prevent oxidation. Basil is a key ingredient in typical Italian dishes such as spaghetti with tomato sauce and pesto alla Genovese.