There are few herbs more intimidating to novice chefs than lavender. Strong and pungent, it has the potential to overwhelm even the most flavourful dish if not used correctly. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that it’s so rarely used in cooking. However, despite its strong flavour a little bit of lavender can add serious “wow” factor to certain dishes.
The secret to cooking with lavender is to use it sparingly. As it’s often associated with cleaning products, if not used correctly, lavender can give food a off-putting soapy taste. It’s also worth keeping in mind that lavender get’s more potent as it dries, so try and use fresh lavender whenever possible. Finally, don’t just grab some lavender from the garden, instead make sure you use culinary — or English — lavender when cooking.
Lavender roasted potatoes
A good rule of thumb when it comes to using lavender in savoury dishes is to substitute it for rosemary. The two herbs pair with similar foods and can often work in tandem. One of the best examples of this principle are lavender roasted potatoes. Adding lavender to roasted potatoes results in a fresh dish packed with complex flavours.
If your interested in seeing what lavender can bring to to this staple, simply add 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried lavender — per 2 pounds of spuds — to your favourite roast potato recipe. You won’t be disappointed!
Lavender and rosemary roast rub
Lavender also works extremely well when paired with grilled lamb. Next time you’re setting up the grill, try this simple France-inspired lavender rub recipe.
- 5 pound leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender
- 3 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
- 3 tablespoons of chopped mint
- Olive oil
Combine all ingredients — aside from the lamb — in a bowl. Rub the mixture over the lamb and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Cook over a gas or charcoal fire until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135°F. Remove from flame and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
Finally, we come to one of my personal favourites: lavender-infused shortbread. The combination of the sweet shortbread and fresh lavender is surprisingly delicious and perfectly pairs with a cup of earl grey tea. Here’s how to whip up a batch:
- 50 grams of caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- 100 grams of softened butter
- 150 grams of plain flour
In a food processor, combine and blend the lavender and caster sugar. Sieve the combination into a mixing bowl. Add butter and flour and mix until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a board and roll into a ball. Wrap in Clingwrap and store in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 320°F. Remove dough from fridge and roll out onto a floured surface. Cut into biscuit shapes and bake for 10-12 minutes.