Herb of the Month: Lavender
Nicknamed the "herb of love," lavender is in season now. For those new to the idea of cooking with lavender, we’ve got simple recipes to get you started.
The name lavender comes from the Latin verb "to wash." Throughout history, it was commonly used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. Today, it is added to many hand soaps and body washes due to its aromatic fragrance.
A relative of mint, the lavender plant is adorned with violet flowers and green or pale grey leaves. Both the flowers and leaves can be eaten and have a pleasant yet slightly bitter flavor. Lavender grows throughout southern Europe, Australia and the United States.
Dried lavender has only a few calories per tablespoon and is free of fat and cholesterol. Throughout history it has been used to remedy various ailments including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Research has shown that lavender oil may help alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
Fresh lavender can be found at the farmers’ market or you can easily grow your own. Dried lavender can be found in specialty stores and health food stores. Both fresh and dried lavender can be added to both sweet and savory dishes for both flavor and its gorgeous color. Add the fresh herb to salads, lamb, teas and cocktails. It also works very well with citrus, fruits, and desserts like crème brulee.
Dried lavender can be used in rubs, marinades, sauces, cookies and sorbet. It can also be added to a simple syrup mixture and used to flavor summer drinks like cocktails, lemonade or iced tea.
Shopping Tip: Be sure to purchase lavender for cooking as opposed to lavender sold at craft shops. Store dried lavender in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Fresh lavender can be wrapped in a moist paper towel and placed in the fridge for several days.