Lavender, the Herb Superb

More by Luci


The previous post described the virtues of lavender and its many uses, with recipes for two appetizers and a dessert. This post illustrates how to include lavender and other herbs in main dishes and sides.

Lavender buds surrounded by friendly herbs 

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: lovage, thyme, basil, parsley, sage, rosemary


PORK LOIN WITH HERB PASTE

Savory and aromatic, this paste is just what a pork loin needs.


Herb paste

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons fresh lavender buds or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2- 3 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat, rolled and tied


Process all ingredients until a paste forms. Coat the pork loin with the herb paste. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

Roast in 3500F oven for about 1 hour, 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 1450F - 1500F.

If you want, make a wine sauce. Pour off all but about one tablespoon of fat. With pan on low heat, add ½ tablespoon of flour to pan and stir until flour is brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add 1 cup of white wine and, if you like, a teaspoon or so of mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of ground lavender buds and 1/2 teaspoon chopped sage. Simmer until reduced by half. Add salt and pepper to taste.  


Note: Lavender is wonderful with lamb. You can use the herb paste above, but without the honey. Use about 2 teaspoons total of herbs per pound of lamb. I’ve done lamb loin roasts, leg and shanks with combinations of lavender with thyme, rosemary and/or sage. I like the combination for beef stew, also. I’ve tried similar preparations with chicken, but have never cared for the result. 


ROOT VEGETABLES WITH LAVENDER AND ROSEMARY

Use potatoes, parsnips, celery root, or whatever captures your taste imagination. The quantities given below for potatoes will work with other root vegetables and tough-leaved herbs.


2 pounds potatoes suitable for boiling (Yukon gold, fingerlings, new) or other root vegetable

1 teaspoon dried lavender buds

4 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1½  teaspoons dried)

Butter and salt to taste


Peel and cut veggies into 1-inch chunks. Put the lavender and rosemary in the water for steaming. Steam for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork but are not mushy.

Place in bowl with butter, salt and pepper to taste.


POTATO AND SPECK SALAD

Here is an unusual but perfect summer side. Adding basil is optional but will give a touch of color and augment the licorice flavor of the fennel. You could substitute prosciutto for speck (the northern Italian version of prosciutto).


Dressing

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey mustard

1 teaspoon dried or 1½ teaspoons fresh lavender buds, ground fine

2 6-inch sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt


Salad

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

1½ teaspoons dried or 1tablespoon fresh lavender buds

4 6-inch sprigs rosemary

1 cup chopped fennel

¼ pound speck, sliced thin (not paper thin) and cut into 1-inch pieces

20 large basil leaves, in thin slices (optional)


Make dressing. Blend all ingredients until emulsified. 

Prepare potatoes. Put rosemary and lavender in large pot with enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Bring to boil. Add potatoes, cover and cook at a slow boil until potatoes are tender but not soft, about 15 minutes. Drain.  

Finish. Place potatoes in large bowl with fennel and speck. Add dressing and, with folding motion, stir until potatoes and fennel are well coated. Gently stir in basil.


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