Garden Herb Spotlight: Lovage

By Brianne Whittaker

LOVAGE_INSIDEThe Parkdale Garden herb circle is flourishing and many herbs are ready to harvest. Among the plants you will see some common herbs like mint, chives and tarragon but there are some lesser known gems inside as well. One large plant you may not recognize but just can’t miss is lovage. Lovage is a hardy, easy to grow perennial. At up to 2.5 m tall, it is a striking addition to any garden as an ornamental plant. It also has been used for natural remedies dating back to medieval times.

Lovage also has a variety of culinary uses. With a flavour reminiscent of celery and parsley with hints of anise and curry, this complex herb may soon become one of your new favourites. The roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. The stems are often used in place of celery in soups and stews. The leaves are also most commonly used in soups and stews. The youngest tender leaves can also be added to salad, vegetable dishes or used to flavour fish or poultry. Lovage packs a punch so make sure to use it more sparingly than celery or related herbs.

Summer Vichyssoise with Green Peas and Lovage

From the Wall Street Journal Online, www.wsj.com, by Gail Monaghan.

Active Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 4¼ hours (includes chilling) Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 5 large Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 4 large leeks, green parts removed and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lovage leaves, coarsely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon finely julienned, for garnish
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups green peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives, for garnish
  • Crème fraîche or plain yogurt, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring potatoes, leeks, stock, milk, salt, chopped lovage and pepper to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot and simmer until potatoes are very tender, 20-30 minutes. Use a potato masher to roughly smash about half the potatoes. Add peas and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  2. Place pot in a large bowl of ice water and stir to cool soup to room temperature. Refrigerate until soup is thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours.
  3. Once soup is chilled, thin it with more milk, if necessary. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Serve soup cold in chilled bowls and garnish with chives, julienned lovage and dollops of crème fraîche or yogurt, if desired.

The herb circle harvest is yours to share. Please feel free to harvest herbs such as lovage to add flavour and interest to your dishes.

For more discussion about gardening topics, please join the Parkdale Community Garden Facebook group or see our online blog.

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