This is lovage (pronounced love-idge). Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a new discovery of mine and am glad to have made its acquaintance.
What the heck is lovage? Lovage is an herb. It’s a member of the parsley family, aka ‘sea parsley’ or ‘love parsley’. It tastes a bit like celery meets parsley meets chervil. Lovage, from the genus Levisticum, is an alteration of Ligusticum, which refers to the plant’s Ligurian (Italian) origins.
I’ve said this before (guess some things are worth repeating), but due to lack of diversity in the modern diet, many plants/herbs that used to be widespread and plentiful (lovage was long cultivated in Europe for its leaves, roots, and seeds for cooking and medicinal purposes) are no longer mainstream. The only way these types of plants/herbs will make a comeback, is if we plant them and eat them and well, talk about them. So that’s my goal for today.
A brief story about how I was introduced to lovage…
A couple of weekends ago, I attended a txakoli tasting (Txikifest 2015 NYC). BTW, txakoli is a light and refreshing Basque sparkling wine. I drank entirely way too much txakoli (oh yeah, I was feeling it the next day). I met a friend for coffee after the event (hmm, I wonder if she could tell I was buzzed??). Felt like I was back in college, a sunny afternoon spent eating and drinking down a random back alley in NYC. Nonetheless it was a blast, but I digress. Was just getting to the part about the lovage. There were food tastings to accompany the txakoli. One such tasting was a lovage and garlic scape pesto crostini. And that was my first introduction to the lovely lovage.
And so, if it wasn’t for this particular chef’s use of lovage, I too, if I happened to stumble across it, would most likely walk past it without giving it much thought.
Decided to go simple with a pesto similar to the one I remember at Txikifest. In place of garlic scapes, I used the tender and mild green parts of green garlic, and finished with some purple chive blossoms.
This lovage and green garlic pesto would pair nicely with roast/grilled fish, chicken, red meat, roasted potatoes, eggs/omelet, pasta, perhaps a dollop in a spring (minestrone) soup, to name a few.
Love all the purples and green this time of year…the colors of spring.
Can’t go wrong with a freshly baked baguette from Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY. BTW, they also bake a mean rye-based miche.
Lovage and Green Garlic Pesto
makes ~ 3/4 cup pesto (you could easily double the recipe)
1/2 cup green parts of green garlic (or garlic scapes), roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup lovage leaves, stems removed
sea salt to taste
squeeze of lemon
toasted/grilled baguette for serving
chive blossoms for serving (optional)
Pulse the green garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and half of the olive oil in a food processor. Add the lovage leaves, sea salt, and the remaining olive oil, and pulse again until the pesto is smooth, but still has a bit of texture. Add a squeeze of lemon. Taste and reseason as needed.
Serve on slices of toasted or grilled baguette. Top with chive blossoms, if using.