Lemon Verbena

 

Lemon Verbena is one of those herbs. One for the must-grow and learn to cook list. It’s fragrance is amazing, enough to send you over the moon, tart and more lemony than lemon, if that’s possible. It adapts to nearly any recipe, is stunning and, with the right conditions, is easy to grow.

Plant it along a border, near your deck or at the edge of a patio for it’s aromatic benefits. Or keep it in a container, especially if you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 or lower, and plan to move it inside when the first frosts come.

It’s worth it. This plant will lift your senses and brighten your day while elevating dishes and drinks with tangy zest.

 

Lemon Verbena

 

Here are just 3 ways to use Lemon Verbena from garden to table:

Lemon Verbena Cookies

What you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (I use unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh or dried crushed leaves lemon verbena leaves. I prefer fresh but both are lovely. Somehow I always manage to throw in extra.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

What to do:

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and leaves and set aside.
  2. Whip the butter until creamy and then add the sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Use a teaspoon to measure out rounded drops of dough. Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes or until they look ready. Be careful, the bottoms can burn quickly (I have loads of experience in this department).

 

Lemon Verbena

 

Lemon Verbena Pesto

What you need:

  • 1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves (can be substituted with lemon balm)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or other favorite
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth.
  2. Slowly add olive oil and blend well — about 1 minute.
  3. Finally grind in salt and pepper until it tastes just right.
  4. Refrigerate, freeze or serve immediately with nearly anything. Try it with pasta, veggies, panini sandwiches, crostini or salads. You’ll love it.

 

Lemon Verbena Libations

 

Gin Gimlet with Lemon Verbena

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup torn or coarsely chopped lemon verbena leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (but I generally use less)
  • 3/4 cup gin
  • 3/4 cup club soda or sparkling water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • lemon verbena sprigs and lime slices for serving (optional)

What to do:

  1. Combine water, sugar and leaves in a sauce pan. Bruise the leaves by rubbing them before adding. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved (about 30 seconds).
  2. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Strain off leaves.
  4. Stir water/sugar mixture together with gin, soda water and juice.
  5. Garnish with leaves and lemon.
  6. Enjoy

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