Do You Know This Herb?

The shape of the leaves may make you think Italian parsley, and you're not far off. The specimen pictured above is also a bit more wild and colorful than the bunch you might find at the farmers' market... It's called lovage, and we have a friend who is obsessed with it.

In fact, it's a friend's sister, but the enthusiasm has rubbed off on the friend, and we've been hearing about it. And we'll tell you, it's the first we've heard. Lovage? What the heck is lovage?

Well, it's an herb that many people describe as a cross between parsley and celery in the way it tastes. Our friend's sister, Abigail Einstein, is a private caterer in Westchester, New York, and she uses it all the time. Because she's got such love for lovage, we're going to let her tell you about it in her own words. Here's Abigail:

I would describe lovage as a mix between celery and parsley, and I'd use it in anything because I love it! Put it in any salad of mixed greens. I also like to put it in shrimp scampi in place of plain parsley. It actually goes really well with any fish dish; you can sprinkle it on top of grilled fish, put it in a pot of mussels to make a nice broth, or use it on a baked fish with white wine and tomatoes. It's really good in stock, too.

The young leaves are best if you're going to eat it raw. If the bunch has older, tougher leaves, they'll work well in any cooked dish. There's a great recipe for fish with lovage in the Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld.

And... we're sold. We love parsley and the taste of those tender leaves at the top of celery stalks, so we think we're good lovage candidates. We're now on the lookout at the farmers' market. Thanks, Abigail.

• Contact private caterer Abigail Einstein: 914-523-0804
• Buy the Herbfarm Cookbook from Amazon.

Anyone else out there feeling the love for lovage? What's your favorite way to use it?

Related: Summer Living: Cooking with Fresh Herbs

(Image: Flickr member Alexandra Clark of the blog Unsweetened.ca. Used by permission.)

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