Dill: It's not just a pickle spice!

Dill: It's not just a pickle spice!
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planting dill in a potDill is not only a pretty foliage plant; it's fragrance is a "comfort smell" for many people. I barely touch it's feathery leaves and the smell of homemade dill pickles, crisp and savory, rubs off on my hands. At the same time, dill is an herb that is often passed over as just a pickle spice and is not truly appreciated.

Growing Dill

Dill can easily be grown from seed in full sun, and can even tolerate a slightly sandy soil. However, when first planting you should keep the soil moist until established. Do not move your dill; instead plant where you will be growing it. Thin the seedlings to 10 inches apart; they will grow about 3 feet high. Use the seedlings that you pull up; they are tender and delicious! Be sure to let one of the plants remain with it's seeds after the season is finished, so it will reseed itself. These plants will be much sturdier and hardier. Throughout the summer you can plant dill in 2 week intervals also, to maintain a supply of fresh leaves.
The trick to growing dill in pots is to harvest early and often. I have mine on the kitchen windowsill, but after the frost I'll move the pot outside to a sheltered sunny spot. You'll need to sow at least two pots several weeks apart to keep the harvest going longer. I like planting it in my herb bed as well.

Using Dill

Dill leaf can be clipped and used in cottage cheese, potato salad, cream cheese, tomato soup and salads. You may also sprinkle chopped young dill on broiling lamb, pork chops or steak during the last five minutes of cooking. The seeds that form on dill can be sprinkled on small pieces of toast or crackers with salmon that has been mixed with mayonnaise. Both the seed and leaf can be used in fish sauces. The fresh leaves can be frozen in small resealable bags and used in dishes. When the leaves are dried, they are referred to as dill weed in recipes. The seeds can be kept in a closed container and used as needed.

Dill is has a fresh crisp taste when the leaves are used, and a stronger, more pungent flavor when using the seeds. Both are useful and wonderful in the kitchen. For instance, when you can't think of another thing to do with zucchini, slice it thin, sauté in olive oil and add fresh dill leaves for a nice side dish. Add a little to your cabbage dishes, tomato soups and sour cream for potatoes. The seed is great used on homemade crackers or bread sticks.

You can store fresh dill weed, which is now available year round in most produce sections, for a few days in the refrigerator. Place the stems in a glass of water and cover loosely with a plastic bag. Be sure to keep the leaves about the water level. The seeds keep well in an airtight jar stored in a cool, dry place. Harvest the seeds just when the seeds turn brown. Clip the seed heads with some stem and hang up upside down to dry, with cloth or paper placed underneath the drying plant to catch the seeds.

Once you plant dill, it will self sow year after year for you. It will be handy to snip into egg dishes, tuna, with cucumbers and a fresh addition to salads too!

Fresh Dill and Shrimp Salad


1 pound small shrimp, cooked, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp. minced red onion
3/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. anchovy paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place shrimp, celery, cucumber, dill and the onion in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together rest of ingredients except salt, and pour over shrimp. Toss well. Season with salt and toss again. Cover and chill for several hours. Stuff hollowed out tomatoes or serves on lettuce greens. Serves 4 to 6.

Sautéed Summer Squash With Dill


3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly and halved
6 to 8 small yellow summer squash, sliced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Heat oil in large skillet and lightly brown the onion, adding the squash, salt, and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat until squash is tender, occasionally stirring. When the squash is done, stir in the fresh minced dill and season with more salt if needed. Serve warm.

New Potatoes with Dill Sauce


1 pound small new potatoes, quartered
1 cup cream
2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes until just tender with the skins on. In a small pan gently heat the cream and dill, stirring constantly, until just very lightly boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Pour over the cooked potatoes. Serves 4.

Tuna Salad With Fresh Dill


6 ounce can tuna in spring water
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
4 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. mustard

Combine all ingredients and serve on bread for sandwiches or on lettuce greens as a salad. This is good with the packets of tuna available now, or you can substitute canned salmon as well.

Cucumber and Sour Cream Dressing


1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar or fresh lemon juice
pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill

In a small sieve set over a bowl, toss the cucumber with the salt and let drain for ten minutes. In a blender blend the mustard, vinegar, pepper and salt to taste. Add the sour cream, yogurt and the dill. Blend the mixture, scraping down the sides until it is smooth. Add the cucumber and blend until combined. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Garlicky Beans with Dill


1 pound fresh beans
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

Trim, string and rinse beans. Cut into 1 inch. lengths, and steam until tender, 10 or 15 min. Drain. Melt butter in a skillet, add garlic, and cook over a very low heat about 5 minutes until soft. Mash or remove garlic, which ever you prefer. Add the dill and stir. Add your beans and pepper flakes, cover and cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Salt to taste and serve.

Light Herbed Cheese Dip


1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons each fresh dill and parsley, chopped
2 small green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. each minced garlic and salt

Put cream cheese and yogurt in food processor and or blender and process 1 to 2 minutes. Add other ingredients and process for just 30 seconds to blend. Serve with raw vegetables.

Tuna and Dill Tea Sandwiches


1 large can white tuna in water
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yogurt
2 tsps. fresh dill, chopped
3-4 chive leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel

Mix together ingredients, and spread on thin bread that has had the crust cut off. Cut into triangles. If you wish a piece of lettuce can be placed on the sandwich also.

Dilled Green Beans


3 cups fresh green beans, cleaned
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 bunch fresh dill, about 1 cup, chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and place beans in the pan. Cook for about 45 seconds, until beans turn bright green. Remove from pan immediately and rinse in cold water until beans are cool. Drain. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.Mix in the beans; cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. This will keep in the refrigerator up to one week. 4 salad servings.

Dill Mayonnaise


2 eggs
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon style mustard
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. salt

In a blender, add the egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse quickly for about 10-15 seconds. Add mustard. With the blender running at medium speed, add the olive oil in a very slow, thin stream. Continue to add the oil until it begins to emulsify with the eggs and starts to thicken. Continue to add oil until it reaches the thickness you like. Stir in dill and refrigerate. If you have a mayonnaise that you like that is prepared, just add the dill and mustard to that and mix. Use this on salmon or crab cakes, or other seafood.

Fresh Dill Dressing


1 pint lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
dash black pepper
2 tbsp. chopped green onion, white section mostly
1 tsp. white wine or herb vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp. fresh horseradish

Combine all ingredients; cover and chill. Use on green salads or in pasta salads.

Dilled Potato Salad

1 lb. small new potatoes, cooked and sliced
1/2 cup peas, cooked til just tender
1/4 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup regular or light mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt
3 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
2 tbsp. herb vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon style mustard
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large glass or plastic bowl, combine the cooked potatoes, peas, celery, and green onion. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss until all ingredients are coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Serves 4.

Tomato and Dill Soup


2 sweet onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
4 cups chopped plum/Roma tomatoes
1 diced sweet red pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
2 tbsp. chopped green chilies
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients except dill, cilantro, cayenne and salt. Bring soup to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then puree in a blender. Stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Serve warmed or chilled. I made several types of dill vinegar blends last fall as I harvested my herbs before the frost. My favorite is a blend of dill, garlic and lemon basil. You could also use any lemon herb and any basil variety.

Dill Garlic Vinegar


1 clean quart jar with lid
white wine or distilled white vinegar
1 cup fresh dill sprigs
1 large peeled clove garlic
1/2 cup or so of lemon basil

Place the herbs in the clean jar and pour over the vinegar almost to the top so the herbs are covered completely. Place in a cupboard or anywhere out of the sunlight and allow to sit for about 3-4 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out the herbs and the vinegar is ready to use in place of lemon juice in salmon patties or crab cakes, dressings, or tartar sauce. It's wonderful added to sauteed green beans or cucumber salads.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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