Category Archives: Evergreen herbs

#3 Rosemary

This week’s winter warming herb is a strongly scented evergreen shrub which many people grow in urban gardens. There are a few Rosemary shrubs growing along my street and I am not alone in enjoying a small amount every week or so, in my meals.

My Rosemary needed a drastic haircut this spring due to a Rosemary beetle infestation

If you are able to find some Rosemary, growing near you, I’d love to see a photo and learn what you like to do with it.

Rosemary is in the aromatic Lamiaceae family. It is known for its ability to stimulate the mind and digestive system.

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage, Saffron, St. Jacques Scallops and Crayfish.

This is a delicious recipe which uses sage and saffron to bring out the flavours of pumpkin and shellfish.  It has been sent to me by Elodie, from Amsterdam who I hope will be regularly contributing recipes.

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage, Saffron, St. Jacques Scallops and Crayfish.

Serves 4
Ingredients

400 – 500g dried pasta shapes
1/4 small green or orange pumpkin (approximately 250g), seeded, peeled and diced
1 fish stock cube
1 medium onion
4 St. Jacques scallops (Coquilles), finely sliced or diced
10 – 12 Crayfish (Rivierkreeften)
Handful of frozen or fresh peas
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced, chopped or mashed (depending upon strength preference)
5 sage leaves
2 saffron strands
1/2 cup almond flakes
Tablespoon cream / creme fraiche
Dash of Thai fish sauce (optional)

  1. Cook diced pumpkin in a little water until soft (approx. 5 minutes),  set aside.
  2. Make a cup of fish stock using the stock cube and boiling water, keep it ready.
  3. Cook your pasta of choice whilst preparing the sauce as follows.
  4. Dice onion and fry in a little olive oil until golden.
  5. Add saffron and garlic to the pan and cook gently.
  6. Add sage and peas.
  7. Add the crayfish and a little of the fish stock ( keep the rest so you can add more if required).
  8. Add a tiny dash of Thai fish sauce, if you happen to have it.
  9. In a separate pan fry the Coquilles St. Jacques in a little oil, until thoroughly cooked. Try a little piece to make sure the scallops are not under-cooked.
  10. In the same pan gently fry the almond flakes until light brown. Reserve the almonds separately.
  11. The minute your pasta is cooked and drained, stir the pumpkin, St. Jacques and cream into your sauce.
  12. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the almond flakes.
  13. Add salt and pepper to your own liking.

This is an excellent dish using the seasonal Pumpkin and Sage in a slightly different way!

Bon Appetite !

Thyme (NL:Tijm)

Evergreen hardy perennial Thyme (Thymus spp.) originates from the Mediterranean, has a great number of medicinal and culinary uses and is easily grown in containers, making it ideal for the Urban Herbologist.  It is a strong herb containing volatile oils and should be avoided by pregnant women and used sparingly by others.

Growing Thyme in Containers
There are a vast number of Thyme varieties, each having a slightly different scent, appearance and flower colour. Thymus vulgaris is the Common Garden Thyme. All Thyme varieties have relatively shallow woody roots and form a soil covering carpet.  A healthy plant can be easily “split” to give you many new plants for free.  Being a Mediterranean herb, it does well in poor soil and should be allowed to dry out between waterings.  Thyme will quite rapidly use up the nutrients in soil, so do re-pot every year or so to encourage healthy growth. The leaves of Thyme  develop a more intense flavour and scent when grown in strong sunlight although dark leaved varieties can thrive in fairly shady locations.

This year I am experimenting with Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus) grown in a container, around the base of a Lemon Verbena.  I bought one small pot of organic Lemon Thyme from my local garden centre and split the plant into four before re-potting.  Lemon Verbena is quite a tender deciduous shrub so drops its leaves in winter and needs to come inside to survive. Thyme is winter hardy but has the same watering requirements as Verbena so they should do well together.  I’m also hoping that Thyme’s shallow roots won’t out-compete the Verbena, when spring arrives.

Historical uses
Since ancient times Thyme has been prized for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  It was used widely in combination with other herbs for; embalming, temple incense, nosegays to ward off disease, room purification and even to induce visions of fairies.  The Romans used it to add an aromatic flavour to cheese but generally ancient people used it medicinally.

Culinary uses
These days Thyme is best known as a culinary herb, it has a strong, pleasant flavour and reportedly has good antioxidant properties. Many stews, salads and sauces are enhanced by adding a little Thyme. Chicken and fish dishes are particularly well suited to it. Because of its strength I far prefer Thyme as a culinary herb, adding it to food more regularly when the cold and flu season is upon us.  If you like the taste of lambs liver, try cooking it with a simple sauce made from softened onion, garlic, chopped tomato and thyme.

Thyme remedies
Some people find Thyme tea a useful hangover remedy but it is more widely used as a throat gargle or mouthwash to help with sore throats or gum infections.  Thyme has expectorant properties so Thyme syrup or honey may be useful as a cough remedy.  However due to the strong volatile oils in this herb, it shouldn’t be used regularly as a tea, syrup or in any other concentrated form.

Thyme tea
To make tea from Thyme simply add a few fresh or dry sprigs to a 2 cup teapot (maximum 1/2 teaspoon of dried chopped Thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped Thyme), fill with boiling water and leave to steep – but only for a short time.  Check the taste and appearance after just five minutes, that should be enough to release some oils and impart a good flavour.   If you cannot seed oil droplets on the surface of the tea then you may like to leave it to steep a little longer, perhaps another five minutes but be cautious with this herb.  It is strong and the volatile oils are unsafe in concentration or when used regularly.

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