In a burst of inspiration, my wife and I bought a bunch of herbs to plant in our garden. We’ve never had our own garden before and we couldn’t think of a better way to take advantage of our newly acquired green space. We bought the usual staples such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender, dill, and sage. With one space left to fill in our pots, we also — on a whim — bought some bergamot, or bee balm as it’s sometimes called. We didn’t really know what to do with bergamot, but figured it would have plenty of other herbs so it wouldn’t really matter.
Unfortunately, life often doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. In the course of three months, our sage got infected with destructive fungus, our dill died, and our lavender, rosemary, thyme, and oregano have barley grown an inch. The bergamot on the other hand is rapidly taking over the garden.
Ironically, of all the herbs we planted bergamot is the least useful for cooking, or so I thought. In an effort to control the rapid growth of this herb I decided to scour the internet for ways to use this underappreciated herb. Here are three surprising ways to use bergamot leaves in the kitchen.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a hot cup of earl grey tea already knows how tasty the similar bergamot lemon can be. For those who want to avoid caffeine, or just want a purer herbal taste, tea made from bee balm is well worth a try.
Bergamot tea is remarkably simple to make, just add a quarter cup of freshly cut leaves to some boiling water. Let the leaves steep for five minutes before straining the tea. Finally add a bit of honey or sugar to give the drink a bit of sweetness.
Pizza and salad
Thanks to its refreshing minty taste and subtle spiciness, bergamot leaves are a great addition to foods like pizza and salad. A few rough chopped bergamot leaves do wonders when added to a simple margarita pizza, or a fresh pear or citrus based salad.
Here’s something a little more daring for the more experiment amongst us: Pork fillet with bergamot sauce. Once again, the minty spiciness of bergamot really brings out the flavors of pork.
- 2 pork tenderloin fillets
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- 7 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp finely chopped bergamot leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche
- Fry the pork in butter over medium heat until cooked through.
- Remove the pork once cooked and using the remaining butter cook the shallots until soft.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the stock and simmer until thick.
- Add about half the bergamot and simmer for a few minutes.
- Season with salt an pepper.
- Remove from heat and add the creme fraiche.
- Pour the sauce over the pork and garnish with the remaining bergamot.