When allowed to flower, dill faithfully returns to a garden year after year, propagated by the wind and the numerous seeds released from its yellow umbrella flowers. Dill’s feathery green sprouts are among the first to emerge in early spring and when three to four inches tall, can be snipped for a wide variety of recipes.
Is dill really a “weed” as its full name, “dill weed”, suggests? Dill can appear everywhere like a weed, but having it grow here and there in the garden can be a good thing. Vegetables love the company of other plants–some species are so helpful to each other that they are considered ‘friends’ or ‘companions’. Dill is a friend for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, and squash, attracting beneficial insects. The only vegetables that don’t particularly appreciate its company are carrots and tomatoes. (My main source of knowledge on these matters is The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith.)
When I snip dill, it is often to manage its growth and to get the best greens before the plant starts to flower. I often cut back the first signs of going to flower–a thickened stem with a green tassel on top–however by the end of the summer there will always be some tall dill plants with large yellow flowers, providing neighbouring plants with shade and wind shelter. In the picture below I have featured the tassel, that appears at the early stage of flowering.
How Do I Use Dill Leaves? If I had answered this question a few years ago, I would have said “not at all”. I didn’t buy fresh herbs and didn’t grow up with them. But cooks all over the world are familiar with its uses, pairing it with dairy concoctions, beets, spinach, cucumbers, potatoes, seafood and more. Following are my favourite uses for fresh dill leaves:
- homemade ranch dip
- dill vinegar (fill a bottle with your favourite vinegar; add a few fronds of fresh dill, pop in the cork and let it sit for several months)
- roasted beets and feta cheese salad
- greek spinach pie
- dill pesto (my pestos often include a mix of herbs and non-traditional ingredients such as sunflower seeds and cashews)
- pickled beets and pickled cucumbers
- potato salad
- Freezing: leftover dill greens can be frozen for use all winter long.
I did a search and discovered that many WordPress bloggers appreciate dill. Here are links to some of their recipes:
Spinach Börek: https://thetrompqueencooks.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/spinach-borek/
Summer Salad: Cucumber with Dill and Sour Cream: https://fotogfoodie.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/summer-salad-cucumber-with-dill-and-sour-cream/
Fresh Dill and Red Potato Salad: http://aberdeenskitchen.com/2015/06/21/fresh-dill-and-red-potato-salad/
Sweet Potato Chips with Creamy Lemon and Dill Dip (vegan): http://homespuncapers.com/2015/06/16/sweet-potato-chips-with-creamy-lemon-and-dill-dip/.
How do you use fresh dill leaves? Please add your favourite uses here and we will have a great collection of ideas!