Whether you're planning on picking your own buds at Lavender in the Valley Day (July 10), growing lavender in your yard or simply interested in trying a new flavor, you'll be surprised and delighted by the range of nuance that lavender flowers can add to your cooking. Sharon Shipley, author of The Lavender Cookbook (Running Press, paper, $16.95) ignored all boundaries in coming up with this collection of recipes; she fearlessly and successfully incorporated lavender into desserts, soups, salads and steaks. Don't be afraid! Just jump right in.
Lavender Beet, Bean and Shallot Salad
Beets add deep color and hearty flavor to this summer salad. Roasting brings out their sweetness, which provides a delightful counterpoint to the piquant dressing. (The roasted beets can be prepared up to a day in advance; cover and refrigerate.)
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds small beets, stems trimmed to 1 inch
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
1 pound tender green beans
1 pound tender yellow beans
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped chives
To make the beets: Preheat oven to 375° F.
1) Place the beets on a large sheet of foil and sprinkle with oil and lavender; toss to combine. Fold up the foil to make a sealed packet. (If necessary, make 2 packets.) Place on a baking sheet.
2) Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender when tested with a sharp knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Slip off the skins. Thinly slice the beets crosswise and let cool.
3) Make the salad. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and yellow beans and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender but still crunchy. Drain and transfer to a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes to cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
4) In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and lavender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beets, beans, shallots, basil and chives. Toss to combine. Transfer to a platter.
Provence Fettuccine Nuovi
While traveling in the south of France, Shipley ate at an incredible wine and pasta restaurant in the little town of Saint-Rémy. Back home, she recreated one of their dishes and enhanced it with lavender. If you can't find basil fettucine, use regular unflavored pasta.
Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon diced shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 leek, julienned
1/2 cup seedless green grapes
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup tomato sauce
1 pound dry basil fettuccine
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Stir in the tomatoes, leek, grapes, mushrooms and Pernod.
2) Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the basil and oil. Add to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cream and tomato sauce; cook for 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/3.
3) Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to the package directions, until just tender to the bite. Drain and add to the skillet. Stir to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley.
Lavender Lemon Cookies
Celebrate any occasion with these lively lemon and lavender cookies. They're equally welcome at casual get-togethers and formal tea parties. You can make them a day ahead and store in an airtight container at room temperature. They're great served with black lavender tea. Just before baking, they're sprinkled with lavender sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar but large-crystal decorating sugar will really dress them up and give them sparkle. Look for it in gourmet stores and cake decorating shops. You might find it labeled sprinkling sugar or sanding sugar.
Makes about 50 cookies
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender buds
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lavender Lemon Syrup (recipe follows)
Lavender Sprinkling Sugar (recipe follows)
1) Combine the lavender and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon zest and vanilla.
2) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, until the dough is well chilled.
3) On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into 2 long logs (1 inch thick). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the dough for slicing.
4) Prepare the syrup.
5) Prepare the sprinkling sugar.
6) Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
7) Slice the logs into 1/2-inch coins and place on the prepared baking sheets. using a pastry brush, generously coat the top side of the cookies with the syrup. Dust with the sprinkling sugar. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
Lavender Lemon Syrup
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1) Combine the lavender and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a small saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice, corn syrup or honey, lemon zest and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar.
2) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. If not using immediately, transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Lavender Sprinkling Sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried culinary buds
1/2 cup granulated sugar or large-crystal sparkling sugar
Combine the lavender and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the remaining sugar. If not using immediately, transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature.
Petite Bites of Salmon with Orange-Miso Sauce
Everyone likes salmon, so serve up these grilled Asian treats at your next summer party. They can be readied ahead and grilled just before serving. You'll be surprised how lavender enhances the flavor of the salmon. Be sure to use Asian (dark) sesame seed oil, which is very flavorful. Look for it—as well as miso, garlic chile paste and black sesame seeds—at your favorite natural foods store or Talin Market (Central and Louisiana).
Makes 24 “bites”
Orange-miso sauce (recipe follows)
1 pound skinless salmon fillet (1/2-inch thick)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds, freshly ground in a spice grinder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup white or black sesame seeds
1) Prepare the sauce.
2) Cut the salmon crosswise into strips about the width and length of your index finger.
3) In a large bowl, mix the marmalade, juice concentrate, oil, ginger and lavender. Add the salmon and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Place the sesame seeds on a small plate. Coat the salmon pieces lightly with the seeds. Arrange the salmon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
5) Soak a package of 6-inch bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes, then drain. Preheat a grill to medium-hot.
6) Thread each salmon strip onto 2 skewers placed 1/4 inch apart (the double skewers prevent the fish from twirling during grilling, making it easier to turn.) Grill the skewers for 3 minutes per side or until the salmon is cooked through. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm with the sauce.
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed