Using Dill

By Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD,
RD

Summer is not too far off and
we may be thinking about creating cool foods very soon. Before we close the
kitchen for the summer months, let’s think about using dill in savory dishes.

     Dill has been around the culinary scene,
since, well, there WAS a culinary scene. Dill is referred to in the Old
Testament and The Romans believed the inclusion of dill in a meal would bring
joy and pleasure. Dill oil, obtained from pressing dill seeds, was used in
medieval Europe as a medicine and antiseptic.

     Fresh dill is usually available, packaged,
in the produce section of the grocery store or sold as willowy green bouquets
at farmers markets. Look for deep green, feathery leaves with a firm stem. The
leaves may be slightly wilted, as this tends to happen immediately upon
harvesting. Slightly wilted is okay, just avoid pale green, yellow, or
dried-out looking leaves. Dill has a faintly fennel-like aroma (think:
licorice) and should never smell moldy or earthy. Fresh dill is quite fragile,
so it definitely needs to be stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drying,
make yourself a little dill bouquet and place it in a small vase or glass
filled with cold water. For less artistic storage, cover dill with damp towels.
If, however, you go overboard and do too much dill acquiring, you can dry dill
for later use in a microwave or low oven (an oven set to about 200 degrees), by
placing it single-layered on baking sheets or microwaveable sheets. When fresh
dill is not available, dried dill will have to do. Dried dill is sold as dill
weed or dill seed. Do not keep dried dill for more than four months (stored in
a cool, dry, dark place), as its delicate flavor will dissipate. Remember for dried
herbs, we use half as much as for fresh herbs. So, for example, if a recipe
calls for one Tablespoon of fresh dill, we would use ½ Tablespoon of dried
dill.

     Dill can go anywhere: in dough, batters,
soups, stews, sauces, and salads. Fresh dill adds a subtle, caraway and fennel
flavor to foods. Add dill at the end of cooking for the best flavor impact.
Think you haven’t ever tasted dill? Think dill pickles and many salad
dressings. Add dill to vegan cream cheese, sour cream, or plain yogurt for a sandwich
spread or vegetable dip. Dill perks up the flavor of beets, cucumbers, cabbage,
cream sauces, tofu, and veggie and grain stews Dill might have been the secret
ingredient in many a comforting broth and soup!

     Enjoy the following recipe!

Dill and Mustard Salad Dressing

(Makes about 1 cup)

1 Tablespoon silken tofu
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons orange juice concentrate
2/3 cup oil (sunflower or vegetable oil)
2 Tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons white pepper

Place tofu, mustard, and
orange juice concentrate in the canister of a blender. Process until just
blended. With the blender running, drizzle in oil until the texture you would
like is attained. Add vinegar, dill and pepper, then blend on high for 30
seconds. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.