The invigorating aroma, the lovely purple color of the flowers – it’s no surprise that lavender has been a prized commodity since the dawn of recorded history. Lavender is an herb garden staple that is cherished for its fragrant, purple flowers used in dried flower arrangements and potpourris. As an edible, lavender can be used in a variety of ways. The chefs in Provence, France, have incorporated this herb either alone or as an ingredient of herbes de Provence for years. Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavor to most dishes.
A few ideas to get those culinary juices flowing: infuse simple syrup with a smidge of lavender and use to sweeten iced tea and lemonade. Grind lavender into sugar and use it in your favorite butter cookie recipe or infuse cream for lavender-scented whipped or ice cream. Make your own blend of herbs and flowers (we like lavender with mint and rosemary) and rub on lamb or chicken before grilling. It’s important to remember that when cooking with lavender a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.
For Hampton Roads, the varieties Dutch, Provence and Grosso are some of the better performers. Lavenders thrive in full sun, and plants are very drought resistant once established.
Stay tuned for this week’s Cuisine du Jardin/w Chef Manu featuring Lavender Crème Brûlée.