Was mulling over my herbs and got to thinking about Dill – as you do…. It’s not a herb we use much of in our kitchen and we’re not sure why we forget to use it. It has a fabulous delicate flavour and works well with most seasonal ingredients.
The Sussex dill we have currently is soil grown by Toni, our farmer in his eccentrically beautiful glasshouses (all tucked down a track out outside of Arundel and is a mish-mash of spaces all smelling of herbs and warm soil – lovely!). Toni’s variety has quite a punchy flavour which is probably because it’s freshly picked and not left to go all floppy and wilty in a plastic bag in a warehouse?
Dill is also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and magnesium, which are important for the immune system and good vision. It was also used traditionally as a medicinal herb, as it contains unique healing components. Perhaps this is why it is such a popular herb in colder countries as it grows well and is so very useful and rich in nutrients.
Anyway, we’d love to know more about how you use it in your kitchen – so please do send us your ideas. But, beyond salads, we realised we had a gap in our herb knowledge so have started adventuring more into the world of aniseed flavours…
How to store
- Rule #1: Don’t wash before storing as it is too delicate and will just wilt.
- Just make sure you shake out any insects before storing in the fridge
- If you are storing in a plastic bag then put a piece of kitchen roll in there as well to absorb the condensation.
- The tried and tested way of storing delicate herbs is to treat them like flowers and put into a jar of water. Put a clear plastic bag over the top and this helps to hold back wilt and seal flavour. Store in the lower part of the fridge though – dill doesn’t need to be kept too cold.
You can freeze dill and it will be good and full of flavour for cooking – but won’t hold up to salads as it loses its featheriness:
- To freeze a whole bunch, remove the lower part of the stem. Wash in cold water and dry carefully and thoroughly on kitchen paper. Don’t squeeze it – or you could leave it to dry naturally on a baking cooling rack. Divide into usable portions and freeze in a small plastic bag.
- To freeze chopped dill, first wash and dry as above. Chop the dill, but keep it quite rough – not tiny pieces. Place a spoonful in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze in cubes. We have also tried freezing delicate herbs in olive oil, which also works beautifully, but it depends on how you are using. It’s less helpful to freeze dill this way, although freezing in butter works well as it is fabulous defrosted then used to cook eggs or dabbed over new potatoes.
Foods that pair with dill
Dill pairs beautifully with potatoes, hot or cold. Use in potato salads or as above to make dill butter to dab on jacket potatoes or steamed. This fantastically healthy salad dressing which recommends flax oil, but locally we have delicious hemp oil which has a grassy peppery flavour or Brighton’s own wonderful Mesto Olive oil.
Grains are another pairing match for dill – couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley – you name it…Add chopped dill when serving or you could try something like this quinoa rice pilau with dill and roast tomatoes, which could be served with chicken or fish – or with crusty bread and butter (how we like our midweek suppers!). Incidentally, we are huge fans of making beer bread with spelt flour (or more often cider bread as it’s a little sweeter) – quick to make and quicker to eat when fresh from the oven. Here’s a recipe, also using dill, which is quite handy.
Dill pairs well with most fish – especially white fish like cod, coley, bream or mullet. Keep it simple and just bake with dill and butter for a totally deliciously moist dish.
Cheese, apart from blue cheese, is another fine match. Being summer, cheese and dill scones are just designed for picnics.
Traditionally, eggs and dill were the match in our house – as a child, scrambled egg with dill was a heady sophisticated dish. A simple yet perfect dish is the feta cheese, dill and egg scramble..with wholegrain toast or pita.
Dill is not particularly popular in tomato and onion dishes, but the flavours marry well. One of our all time favourites is Menemen, which also uses egg, so in all a perfect match of flavours (just substitute dill for parsley in this recipe). We usually cook this with olive oil unless we are feeling particularly decadent, when we will half and half with butter…Don’t google too many images as generally it’s not a photogenic dish which is a shame as it is one of the most delicious dishes EVER.
Dill has a citrussy quality so is wonderful paired with lemon. Mixed in vinaigrettes or chopped in salads or try chopped over a stew such as lamb cooked with lemon and dill.
Another vegetable which grows all over the colder countries is beet and unsurprisingly this also pa
irs well with dill. Think of a delicious Russian Borscht with a delicate combination of dill and sour cream dabbed over. Or the same delicious flavours roasted together with roasted beetroot, sour cream, hazelnuts and dill.
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