Dill is ideal herb for warm-weather fare

August 18, 1991|By Universal Press Syndicate

A sprinkling of dill refreshes salads, grilled fish and vegetables, but its flavor is lost in long-simmering stews. Thus dill is best suited to quick use, making it an ideal herb for warm-weather fare.

A hardy annual that's easy to grow, dill can be harvested all summer. Its featherlike leaves taste both sweet and sharp.

Though dill is native to the Mediterranean region, it is not commonly used in Latin cuisines. Instead, Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans have long recognized dill's qualities, using it in pickles, potato soups, borscht and gravlax. The Russians use it to flavor chesnochnaya, a vodka infused with dill, garlic and peppercorns. Dill is cultivated in India as well, but there it is cooked as a vegetable.

Both the leaves and seeds (flower head) of dill are used, most typically for pickling and curing. Dill marries especially well with potatoes, making it a natural addition to potato salad. Another good pairing is cucumbers with sprigs of dill and a yogurt dressing. Fish, especially salmon, also pairs well with dill for taste as well as color.

If you don't grow your own dill, you can buy it fresh at most grocery stores and markets. To prolong freshness, wrap dill in dampened paper towels and place in a plastic bag in the crisper. Or place stems in a glass of water, cover the leaves with a plastic bag and refrigerate. Change the water frequently, discarding discolored leaves.

Ways to use fresh dill:

*Add fresh dill leaves to salads.

*Add chopped dill leaves to a vinaigrette to use on potatoes or a green salad.

*Use in sour cream and yogurt dressings.

*Add 1 tablespoon chopped dill to a filling for deviled eggs.

*Add chopped dill to butter or mayonnaise.

*Add a handful of crushed dill with stems and flowers to a bottle of white wine vinegar and let it age for a month or two.

*Add a handful of chopped dill to cooked rice.

*Tuck fresh dill leaves into fish for grilling or baking, or stir into accompanying sauces.

*Tuck dill leaves under the skin of chicken before baking.

L *Add some chopped dill to hamburger patties before grilling.

*Season cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, cabbage, snap beans or sweet young carrots, with chopped dill.

*Layer mild, soft cheeses with fresh dill. Serve with fruit, crackers and bread.

*Sprinkle dill on a spinach omelet.

*Add chopped dill to melted butter and pour over toasted bread cubes. Toss and toast again. Use in soup or salad.

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