How to cultivate lovage and how to use it

How to cultivate lovage and how to use it

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The lovage is not one of the aromatic plants more in vogue in our country where others like basil, rosemary and parsley go crazy if not coriander. Drawing on other gastronomic traditions not too far from us, however, we can learn some interesting recipes that encourage us to learn how to cultivate lovage and how to use it. I learned about it through a returning colleague from Eastern Europe who found it interesting and told me about it. I confirm, it is interesting both in flavor and in health benefits.

Lovage: characteristics

The scientific name of this plant is levisticum officinale and it is not difficult to learn how to cultivate it. It looks a lot like celery and may seem like a simple variation to a less experienced eye. The flavor also recalls it but it is more intense and wilder, which is why it is also nicknamed mountain celery. It has useful digestive properties and its infusion is indicated against rheumatism. In the kitchen we find it mainly used in recipes such as boiled meat or in sauces and soups but since it also has a certain character it can be useful to give flavor in omelettes and in many other dishes, such as cheeses and fish. It can be eaten raw in salads, its florets, while the seeds are used for bread and focaccia.

How to cultivate lovage

This perennial, hardy herbaceously adapts to the even harsh climate and withstands low temperatures without showing signs of suffering. On the contrary, it is extremely sensitive to water stagnation, which is why it is important to pay close attention to the soil in which it is grown and the arrangement of the pot. It must be well drained and if needed we can place some draining material at the bottom of the pot.

When it's time to sow, in early spring, you need to make a transition first in a seedbed and then transplant the seedlings into the ground leaving them to root. The lovage plant itself is not huge in size but to make sure it grows well and develops at its best we leave about 50 cm between one plant and another. If we have to use them at home, we don't need to plant many, a couple are enough.

However, if we wish to expand our production one day or give a plant as a gift to a friend, we can multiply it by division of the tufts, taking the new castings that will sprout at the base of the mother plant. Alternatively we can also obtain seeds from the flowers that will sprout, leaving them on the plant until September and October, to then collect them in bunches and let them dry. Then just shake them to release the seeds.

Towards the month of June the lovage blooms producing chicks flowers collected in umbrellas and with an unconvinced yellow color. They can be used to cook cookies or buns, in any case it is necessary to collect them to let the plant develop well. Towards the end of summer, the plant loses its vigor but remains alive and will give its best again in the next growing season.

How to use the lovage

When we collect it it is best to use it immediately, from fresh, to fully enjoy its aroma of character. If, on the other hand, we want to preserve it by drying it, we must put it in a cool, dry place and inside glass jars.

Lovage: recipes

If you are wondering not only how to grow lovage, known for its strong digestive powers, but also how to use it, here are two recipes in which it gives flavor. Let's start from cod with black potatoes, essence of fennel and lovage. Take the vacuum-packed cod and cook it at 60 C for about ten minutes. Take some potatoes and cut them into thin slices so that they form discs to be cooked and glazed. For the cuttlefish ink glaze brown the onion in a pan and then add the potatoes first and then 250 g of vegetable broth and the squid ink. After 7 minutes of cooking, we can add 100 g of broth and a little oil, making it blend.

To get the icing on the finish we must pass the mixture through a colander. With the fennel we prepare a cream. Blend them after cooking them and add the fennel seeds and then pass through the colander. The cream obtained under vacuum is put to marinate for osmosis with fresh sprigs of fennel for at least 8 hours. The time for lovage has finally come. Blanch the leaves in water with a little baking soda and once they are cold, squeeze them and blend well with the grape seed oil for 3 minutes.

Take an egg white and mix it with the lovage with a little lemon juice, mix and add a little soy sauce and salt at the end. It is a dish where presentation is very important. We must pass the potatoes in the black glaze, arrange them on the plate alternating with the cod and complete the work with some drops of lovage emulsion and finally the fennel cream.

A simpler recipe is that of the soup with

  • 250 gr of potatoes
  • 150 gr. of lovage leaves
  • 1 dl of vegetable cream
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 liter of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • q.s. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of pine nuts

We peel and cut the words into cubes, scrape the carrots and cut them into slices, peel the shallot and cut it into thin slices. Even the lovage leaves go wash dry. Put the onion, potatoes, carrot and lovage leaves in a pan with a little oil, browning everything for a few minutes. We add the broth, salt and pepper and let it boil for 20 minutes over low heat. On the side we toast the pine nuts in the oven and finish cooking the soup by adding a little cream, then serve at the table.

Video: Ligusticum sinense Chinese Lovage (May 2022).