Saturday, October 23, 2021

The World of Lemon Thyme



Summer on Marco Island brings us restauranteurs a time to reflect…on the past season, on the upcoming season, and of course, the months of May- September. Most recently, I started looking for a solution for the pests, ie; mosquitoes and flies that can sometimes be so annoying when dining on an outdoor patio in the summertime. We have all heard of Citronella candles and such, but I came upon information on an all natural solution, Lemon Thyme, which acts as a deterrent of such pests. Lemon Thyme, a hybrid thyme with a citrusy, flowery nature, has so many uses. Its low mounding habit is beautiful in the landscape as a border or edging plant and so a dozen of these plants have been planted around our courtyard.

In keeping with my way of doing things in and around the home and kitchen, I also looked into recipes to use this most fragrant herb. Lemon Thyme is known to be especially mouth-watering with poultry and in salads. An herb, whose scent is regularly described as astonishing, is super delicious when added to herb butters and herbed bread. It blends nicely with chicken, fish, salad dressings and a variety of sauces and vegetables. Lemon Thyme would not categorically take the place of regular thyme in a recipe, because it is so different in flavor components. However, it’s perfect for any dish which calls for both thyme and any citrus flavor blend.

Whole sprigs of fresh thyme may be used when roasting meats and poultry or vegetables, but because of their tough, woody stems, the sprigs should be removed before serving. The tiny leaves are easily removed from the stems by pulling the stems through your fingers from top to bottom, against the direction of the stems. Six average sprigs will yield about a tablespoon of leaves. While there are many varieties of thyme, the two types that are mainly used in cooking are common thyme and lemon thyme. Both have sweet, mildly pungent flavors and are highly aromatic. Lemon Thyme has more of a citrus flavor. This plant looks just like regular thyme – until you crush a few of its leaves and breathe in its sweet, lemony aroma. It smells so good that you may want to keep some sprigs in a dish of water on your desk. It’s a great afternoon pick-me-up!

I am always baking cut-up chickens. I slip sprigs of lemon thyme (as well as tarragon or rosemary) under the skin of the breasts, thighs, and legs, before roasting. I also put sprigs among the fingerling potatoes and thickly sliced onions that we put in the pan around and under the chicken. In cooking, I’ve started to realize that it’s the best of both worlds. It delivers a soft herbal thyme flavor along with a subtle essence of lemon, all without any of the bitterness we sometimes get from regular thyme. Lemon Thyme is really terrific in any dish that calls for both of those ingredients – which is to say, just about everything.

Believe it or not, you can make a pesto out of just about any leafy fresh herb. Lemon Thyme has a sweet and lemony flavor which is light, so it’s great to use with poultry, fish, pasta or sauces. Pesto is so simple and quick to make. Just pop all of your ingredients into your food processor and in 5 minutes you have fresh pesto you can use in your recipes.

Lemon Thyme Pesto

1 cup Lemon Thyme, removed from stem

1 Garlic Clove

1/4 cup Pignoli Nuts

2 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Add the thyme, garlic, nuts and cheese to a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended.

2. Next, gradually add the oil until the mixture resembles a paste-like consistency.

3. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the freezer for later use. Makes 1/2 cup. Add to your favorite pasta.

Lemon Thyme also has great therapeutic benefits and can be used for relieving muscle spasms, easing a tight chest and has anti-aging properties as well. Plant this wonderful herb around your patio…you’ll be glad you did!


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