Fresh herbs and edible flowers also have special meanings and can play an important role in dishes made in your summer kitchen. I may include recipes at the end, so don’t stop reading…
Basil, a member of the mint family, means “kingly.” It can be used for pesto, infused oil, salad, and appetizers. I recommend Giada de Laurentiis’s Tomato, Mozarella and Basil Bruschetta from the Food Network’s website.
A tangle of thyme – “courage and strength.” Thyme is often combined with parsley and rosemary on pork and in Cajun cookery.
Parsley is “festive.” It has the redeeming qualities of garnishing plates and freshening breath. Fresh parsley on buttered potato chunks is a quick way to make them, well – festive!
Rosemary is for “remembrance.” It is popular in marinades for meat and poultry. Also, this herb is an antioxidant, fighting bacteria and preventing meat from spoiling.
Dill = “powerful against evil.” Where would pickle lovers be without it? Dill can add a quick punch to sour cream, cream cheese, dips, and potato salad. To dry it for future use, I suggest using the regular oven at 200 degrees for an hour and a half (I once had an unfortunate fireworks-like experience trying to dehydrate dill in the microwave).
Orange nasturtium stands for “creativity.” Nasturtium leaves will add Vitamin C to any salad, and its seeds can be used in place of capers. The leaves are peppery, though, so you’ll want plenty of other greens along with them.
“Devotion” is written in the calming sight and smell of lavender. Lavender is widely used for soap, lotion, and sachets. It’s also a fun addition to an iced drink.
(All photos by the author, who has the mosquito bites to prove it.)
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup cottage cheese
2 T sugar
1 T minced onion
2 1/4 cups flour
1 T butter
1 T fresh dill
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Heat cottage cheese to lukewarm. Soften yeast in warm water. Mix all ingredients but flour. Mix in flour. Let rise one hour. Place in buttered, round 2 qt. casserole dish. Let rise 40 minutes. Bake 350 degrees 45 minutes. Brush top with melted butter. (www.allrecipes.com)
12 nasturtium flowers
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1/2 tsp. fresh chives
1 T. chopped fresh lemon verbena, lemon basil, or lemon thyme
Pick flowers the same day as serving. Clean and dry; store in refrigerator until ready to use. Mix cream cheese with herbs. Place 1-2 tsp. in center of flower. Pul petals upward and press lightly into cheese. 4 serverings. (www.food.com)
Carla Hall’s Lavender Berry Slab Pie
2 pkg. refrigerated pie crust
2 pints blackberries
2 pints blueberries
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon, dried overnight
1/4 c. sugar
1 T dried lavender
Line bottom of oven with sheet of foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 18×13 in. sheet pan.
Combine all dough and roll into 24×19 in. rectangle on lightly floured surface. Cut in half crosswise. Line bottom of sheet pan with 1 piece of dough.
Gently toss berries, sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice of 2 lemons in large mixing bowl. Pour filling into sheet pan.
Cut remaining dough crosswise into 5 12 x 1/2 in. strips. Arrange strips in lattice pattern.
Whisk together egg and cream. Lightly brush egg wash over top of lattice crust. Combine lemon-lavender sugar ingredients and sprinkle over top of pie. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Cut in squares and serve with individual wraps of waxed paper. Serves 8-10.
Carla says you can save some of the pie filling and puree it for a base for lemonade or sweet tea. (Parade Magazine) When I tried it, I put everything into the dessert. Delicious!
Do you have a favorite herb to cook with?