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Jun 10, 2011 01:18 PM

Lovage, Sorrel and Thai Basil...I planted them, but will need some ideas on how to use

Don't know the first thing, but I bought late and had to get something! I'm betting they're somebody's favorites? The Thai basil, I was thinking Vietnamese Cilantro but don't think it's the to anything.

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  1. I love sorrel. I use it fresh with mixed greens for salad, a little shredded on a salmon salad sandwich, cooked down to make a sauce - it's my favorite sauce for grilled lamb. It's got a pleasantly snappy sour flavor. I got mildly obsessed with sorrel after reading Leslie Land about 25 years ago; as luck would have it, I found the link to that bit: It's not a really *pretty* plant in the garden, but it's pretty tough. Just keep cutting it and using it.

    Lovage? I got rid of my plant - it got far too large for it's space - the thing was about 4 feet high and almost as wide, and tended to flop open in the middle. The flavor was to me like an aggressively unpleasant celery, and I found I didn't care for it either as a cooking herb in application where one would use celery, or a garden plant. I though about wrapping the plant to blanch the stems and see if that would tame the flavor a bit, but decided it wasn't worth it. I hope you have better luck!

    Never grew Thai basil, but now I think I might have to give it a go!

    2 Replies
    1. re: cayjohan

      Thanks for the insights, I will let you know what I think as I play with them. Since it's summer, I usually use my outdoor herbs in marinades for the grill, but putting in salads is a great idea.

      1. re: cayjohan

        I too love sorrel. That sour tang to it is awesome. It goes beautifully with eggs (frittata, omelette, scrambled, whatever). I've made a sauce out of it for potatoes. There's a polish soup called schav (not sure I'm spelling it correctly) that basically uses a boatload of sorrel with potatoes and is really delicious. (I think there was a sorrel thread here on CH some time ago; you might want to search it out.)

        From what I understand from the farmer from whom I buy it, sorrel can grow like weeds. So good luck! You may find yourself with a lot of it to use.

      2. I've grown sorrel several years. I like sorrel soup. Basically, cut up some onions, and use leeks, too, if you like, even a little garlic if you like; and braise in butter.
        Wilt about a cup of roughly cut sorrel leaves into the onions; then and add either water or chicken stock (I like half-and half chicken stock and water ratio.) Dice some potatoes and add, simmer about 30 minutes.

        1. Well I'm totally psyched to use the sorrel, and afraid it will be one of those herbs I'll miss terribly in the off season. Without even trying it yet!

          1 Reply
          1. re: coll

            If you cook the sorrel down into a puree, it freezes easily. It's already true that one must get over the fact that cooked-down sorrel is not the prettiest color in the world in any case, so you're really not facing any further loss of *fresh color* by freezing! When I freeze it, it's just the basic puree (often without even onions), frozen in trays and stored in a zip bag. Works great.

            I've had a couple of years of major garden work, and my sorrel bed was decimated in the process. I'd better throw a few more in soon so I can stock the freezer for this winter!

          2. I'm a big fan of Thai Basil - I use it in stir fries, Thai dishes (obviously) like fried rice and curry and salads, in summer rolls (the fresh kind you don't fry), and it's really refreshing if you crush it along with some fresh ginger and steep in your lemonade and iced teas. It's often served on the side with pho, so your thinking that you could use it in Vietnamese cuisine absolutely makes sense.

            It's also good for pesto, though a bit more peppery than Italian Basil.

            2 Replies
            1. re: inaplasticcup

              Maybe, perhaps use a dab of the thai basil pesto over some cold noodles?

              I've seen a recipe for Thai basil pesto using English walnuts instead of pine nuts.

              I don't care for Thai basil pesto on Italian pasta as it seems to be too strong, but it certainly is worth a try.

              1. re: Rella

                I just smelled the plant before, and I can see a pesto like sauce, perhaps for dipping dim sum and spring rolls, or definitely as a noodle dressing. And the lemonade/ice tea idea with ginger will be one of my first experiments, what with this heat.

            2. If your sorrel starts to send up a flower stalk, chop it off - supposedly the sorrel gets to bitter after flowering. I like to use it in salad, esp. with arugula for a lemon-and-pepper taste. It's also really good chopped up and mixed with roasted beets, dressed with an orange or raspberry vinegar and maybe some goat cheese.

              I do like lovage, and stopped buying celery to make soups etc. I think the key is to not use too much - a little lovage goes a long way. Hubby like some leaves in his salads too.

              Is the Thai basil Holy basil? Look for chicken with holy basil recipes..or make a noodle dish with wide rice noodles, those little round Thai eggplants, and some of your basil...yum!

              6 Replies
              1. re: gimlis1mum

                P.S. The sorrel and lovage are spring you should see both of them peeking up, maybe even in March, ready to enliven your salads :-)

                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  Yes, we are in the snow belt here, and the lovage is the first plant we have coming up in the spring and the last one to give out when we have frost. Kind of amazing.

                2. re: gimlis1mum

                  Thanks for all this great info. I just made some ajvar and since my regular basil is still small, I also used a few sprigs of the Thai. This is just the beginning of my adventures!

                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                    gimlis1mum, I always wonder if I gave up on lovage too soon. I think I was perhaps trying too hard to force it to be celery. I recall I didn't mind any slight difference in cooked dishes, but was offput by its non-celeriness in raw states. I'm starting to think it was perhaps an *operator error* in thinking of lovage and celery as interchangeable. I might have to give this one a try again. Do you wrap the stalks to blanch them?

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Nope, never tried to wrap the stalks. Truth be told i'm not that big of a celery fan! I rarely eat it raw as a crudite.

                      Lovage works for me becauce I can add a few leaves to broth and get that celery flavor...all too often I was buying a bag of celery at the market, using just a little bit, and ended up throwing the rest on the compost pile.

                      1. re: cayjohan

                        I've heard people say they taste and smell anise and lemon in it. It's really got a lot of dimensions.