Lemon Verbena Sugar "Pesto"
by Kate Heyhoe
I read about this versatile combination in Jerry Traunfeld's excellent The Herbfarm Cookbook. Known also as a conserve, it's an excellent way to preserve lemon verbena and can be endlessly adapted. I have a hunch you can spread it on salmon in the final minutes of broiling, for a lemony sweet glaze, or glazed on a baked ham, but haven't actually tried these methods (let me know if anyone out there does).
In a food processor, purée one part lemon verbena leaves (lightly packed when measuring) with two parts sugar. Traunfeld suggests processing until the mixture forms a smooth paste, but I stop when it retains just a small bit of texture (1 to 2 minutes). Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Traunfeld recommends mixing the "pesto" with a small amount of water to create a syrup or sorbet, or adding to milk for ice cream, or other dessert sauces.
Personally, I like to macerate sliced fresh fruit and berries with a small spoonful of the mixture, anywhere from 5 minutes to 6 hours, refrigerated. It sounds odd, but a light touch of salt brings out the flavors of the fruit, sugar, and herb. For a tarter flavor, sprinkle in a few drops of good quality balsamic vinegar, or accent the lemony taste with a pinch of powdered ginger. This works especially well with peaches, berries, and nectarines, and makes a mixed summer fruit salad shine. The lemon verbena acts as a refreshing alternative to mint.
Alternative Lemon Recipes
Kate's Global Kitchen for September 2003:
9/05/03 Looks Can Be Deceiving: Specialty Fruit and Produce
9/12/03 Squash Blossom Fever
9/19/03 Eating Well: It's All in Who You Know
9/26/03 Lemons in Hiding
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created September 2003