Six herbs you might not know.
Everybody can make pesto. Anyone can chop a little parsley. But there are herbs out there that require a little finesse and imagination to fit in to a dish. These herbs are not for everyone one - they can be pungent and intense. But if you aren’t afraid of big, bold flavors, next time you’re at the Greenmarket keep your eye out for these unusual fellows.
EPAZOTE: Next time you make a pot of black beans throw in a couple of sprigs. It’s aggressive and pungent; so don’t go over board. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try some in your next gin and tonic (idea courtesy of Bellweather in Williamsburg).
SUMMER SAVORY: This herb has a magical aroma. It has the same deep flavor that rosemary and thyme do, but it’s entirely its own style. I make a paste with garlic and black pepper and rub it on my steaks or my pork roasts.
LEMON BASIL: This variety of basil has a beautiful citrusy floral flavor. If ever there was a basil to pair with fruit this is it. Slice peaches, toss with chopped lemon basil and you have the best summer dessert ever. It’s also a natural in cocktails or lemonade.
CELERY LEAF (also called cutting celery): Most varieties of celery are grown for the stalks, some are grown for the root, celery leaf is grown for the leaves. While it looks almost exactly like flat leaf parsley, the leaves taste intensely of celery. Try it in potato salad or with a roast chicken.
LOVAGE: This herb is also part of the celery family, but has amazing notes of anise. It is phenomenal as a last minute addition to soup. I like it especially with potato and leek or pea soup. It’s also a great way to spice up your eggs.
PAPALO: This Mexican herb is often put on the table to munch at during the course of the meal. It has some of the same notes of cilantro, but with an aroma that knocks you off your feet. Try it with enchiladas.
All herbs photographed come from Maxwell’s Farm, which is at three Greenmarkets: Monday at Union Square, Wednesday at the Dag Hammarsjkold, Saturday at Grand Army Plaza. Other places to buy these herbs at Union Square: Keith’s Farm (Wednesday & Saturday) grows lovage and savory; Stokes Farm (Wednesday & Saturday) grows epazote and lemon basil; Berried Treasures Farm (Wednesday & Friday) grows lovage and savory: Paffenroth Gardens (Wednesday & Saturday) grows celery leaf: Queens County Farm Museum (Friday) grows savory.
July’s Sweet & Stinky events may be done for another year, but that doesn’t mean we’re skipping out on the aromatic end of the vegetable spectrum. When you visit the NYBG, join us in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden to see how our own herbs are coming along. You can even go home with a few new recipes for your collection. —MN