Had my first fresh taste of Spring from the garden yesterday. It was chopped new leaves of lovage for a chicken sandwich. That is one of the incomparable herbal taste treats.
Lovage is an unsung herb, often overlooked in herb garden lists. Even herbalist and garden author Rob Proctor who I admire and trust in most things, has stated in times past that it is unimportant in an herb garden. I dare to disagree.
So what it this herb? It has the flavor of high octane celery. Celery flavor beyond celery. It is an essential ingredient- to my mind - for anything chicken especially. It makes plain broth sing. A whole bird stuffed with a handful of lovage will be more flavorful and juicy than you can imagine. In chicken salad, it provides the top note of flavor enhancing all the others.
Lovage is great in beef stew and soups, and according to German cookbooks, essential in lentil dishes as well. I quite agree.
Fresh leaves wake up a sleepy garden salad with eye opening freshness.
I first discovered lovage when I established my very first herb garden years ago. To that first garden I added every herb plant I could find. Many I had never heard of. Lovage was one of those.
Having spent many years in outback and wilderness parsonages where shops were distant and celery hard to come by, lovage became a mainstay. Because it dries well, retaining its flavor, it can be used year round.
As a plant, it is a back-of-the-border feature as it can become quiet tall. If left to go to seed, it produces seed heads like dill on steroids. It dies back completely at first frost only to arrived bigger and better each Spring.
Never have I found dried lovage leaves in any market. Nor have I encountered fresh in seasonal markets. Surely, somewhere in the world this happens, just not yet in the Northwest. Pity.
But I do have my own plant . . have root, will travel!
It is one herb I can't do without.
Just thought you should know!