Of all the herbs we planted this year, lovage by far is our favorite. We bought it kind of on a whim when we saw it at the Herb Farmacy earlier in the spring, even though all we knew about it was that, according to Back to Basics, it tastes like celery leaves. And that sounded boring enough that this was originally only a second-string choice on the herb list, something we almost didn't make room for.
Well, now it's filled out nicely, and it is delicious. It does taste like celery, sort of, but also so much more — there's a definite curry flavor in there (almost never part of any description you read about lovage, but it's there). We've been picking leaves for salads, and it's always the best bite when you get a piece.
Lovage is related to carrots, celery, and parsley, as you can see by the leaf shape. It's got a good lot of essential oil in the leaf, the way cilantro does (though they don't taste much alike). Recipes I've looked at say to go easy because it's stronger than celery, but that advice is for wimps. It's way better than celery, and you want to taste it.
It. Is. So. Good.
But the thing is, you can't find it at the store, so if you want to try it, you have to grow one. It's totally worth it — a perennial, so you'll always have more. We've used it in salads and eventually will add it to soups in the fall. I also plan to try it in a bloody mary ASAP (although I cannot claim credit for that idea). The best part about that bit is that as the plant matures, the bigger stems are hollow, so it doubles as your straw!
The recipe I can claim credit for is something we whipped up the other day. I hereby dub it Love Dip. It's like a ranch dip that is way better because it comes out of the garden and not a packet of weird powder. We used it for snap peas:
16 oz. sour cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely chopped lovage
2-3 Tbs. finely chopped mint
1/4 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste
Stir it up and let it sit in the fridge over night so the flavors infuse the sour cream.
In the photo, there's isn't a lot of lovage showing — I added more the next day after another tasting. You can always start with less and add more if you're not sure. We like lovage a lot, so our dip is now significantly more speckled with green than it is here. We know it's good with veggies, and would probably be great on a baked potato too. Or as a dip for potato chip.