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Lovage: A pesto from the herb garden
Lovage is also called maggot herb. Because the plant smells and tastes similar to the seasoning sauce developed by Julius Maggi in 1885. The joke though: lovage is not included here.
The celery-like aroma of the plant is due to essential oils that stimulate appetite and have a beneficial effect on the stomach and intestines. In the kitchen lovage increases the taste of meat, soups, egg dishes, mushrooms and root vegetables such as carrots and celery. The young leaves can also be prepared as a vegetable garnish like spinach. A refined lovage pesto tastes great with pasta, jacket potatoes and in salad dressing. For this, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and garlic are roasted in a pan and finely ground. Then mix with mashed lovage and parsley, oil and parmesan and season to salt. The whole thing comes in a clean screw-top jar and stays in the fridge for months when sealed with a layer of sunflower oil. Since the aroma of lovage is very intense, the spice should be used sparingly. A knife tip of the dried spice or parts of a fresh leaf is often sufficient. For warm dishes, the leaves and young shoots are only added towards the end of cooking.
The lovage (Levisticum officinale) is probably native to West Asia and Liguria. The perennial can grow up to 2 meters high. The umbellifer with its tubular stems and distinctive pinnate leaves resembles an oversized celery. A beet is formed underground, which is dried in medicine, but also used for herbal schnapps. The seeds are used as a spice for cheese and bread.
Lovage is great for the herb garden. As a rule, one plant is sufficient for a family of four. It needs a lot of space and a sunny to partially shaded location. As with many herbs, the best time to harvest is before flowering, as the young leaves are then particularly aromatic. It freezes back above ground in winter, but sprouts again in spring. Liebstöckel is available all year round at the weekly market and in well-stocked supermarkets. From spring to late autumn, the herb also comes from local production. Heike Kreutz, respectively