The summer months ahead will bring us gorgeous seasonal vegetables, an abundance of colorful fruit and a wonderful palate of summer herbs and spices. For me, I love this time of year when I can try out a few new recipes on my boys. It is a time when I like using certain herbs and spices during the changing of the seasons, and one particular herb I have my eye on, is savory, sometimes called the "love herb".
Savory comes in two main varieties: summer and winter (not to be confused with the actual seasons).Summer savory (satureja hortensis) is an annual herb with slender, leggy-like branches that can grow up to 18 inches long. And winter savory (satureja Montana) is a shrubby-like perennial with woody branches that grows to about 12 inches. Both are members of the mint family, and both have a somewhat peppery flavor with a minty background similar to thyme. These plants produce slender leaves and tiny, delicate pale-lilac flowers, which are, by the way, a huge attraction for the bees we need to keep the bees happy and healthy!
Both savories have a long history of medicinal applications dating back to the Ancient Romans. They were used to soothe stomach ailments, promote healthy female reproductive systems, and were once considered a powerful aphrodisiac. For culinary use, the Ancient Romans added savory tovinegar for making a fish sauce, as well as mint sauce which it is used much in the same way today.
As a culinary herb, savory is best suited for fish, meat, vegetables, cheese, soups, beans and many other dishes. In fact, the French had found a great way of marinating their goat cheese by using savory and olive oil, but that's not the only way the French use savory; it is also a key ingredient in classic herb blends like bouquet garni and fines herbes.
There are times when I like adding savory to my rice casseroles or adding a dash or two in my salad dressings. Or sometimes when we feel like having fish, we make a marinade by combining savory with garlic, bay leaf and lemon.
Keep savory on-hand in your kitchen arsenal this mild herb will add a delicate, slightly peppery taste without overwhelming other food ingredients in your recipes. Tomatoes and savory seem to work quite well together, so try a little savory whenever cooking with tomatoes.
You see, savory isn't just a pretty word referring to non-sweet foods; it is a wonderful herb to use on a regular basis. For some summer fun, I hope you enjoy using savory from now on.