After seeing the fields of lavender in bloom in the Provence in early summer, I started looking for reasons to use lavender in the kitchen. Creativity in cooking is often sparked by color. I believe that color has a powerful influence on taste. A jar of pink pepper corns in the cupboard inspired me to mix pink with purple in a bowl. I added fresh green leaves of rosemary to the brightly aromatic ingredients and put the bowl on a wooden tray as decoration.
I soon started to experiment with a new color composition. With the lavender fields of France in mind, I sprinkled some purple olives with the herbal mixture and left them to marinate in olive oil. I continued my taste and color studies with my beautiful bowl of herbs.
I discovered that this fusion of flavors made grilled tomatoes more interesting. A peach and apricot salad with a touch of lavender, pink pepper and rosemary became a summer appetizer served with red salad leaves dressed with spicy extra virgin olive oil.
My first bowl of this highly perfumed blend was soon complemented by a jar with a permanent place on the cupboard shelf.
- 15 grams pink pepper corns
- 15 grams culinary lavender
- 15 grams fresh rosemary
Pick the rosemary leaves and spread them on a platter to dry in the open air, or place the leaves on a platter and dry them in the oven at the low temperature of 70 degrees for approximately an hour. Pick the lavender flowers from their stalks. Crush the pink pepper corns with a mortar and pestle. Mix all ingredients and store them in a glass jar for later use.
♦ Suggested combinations
This herbal trio works well with roasted potatoes and garlic, adding sweetness to grilled red and yellow peppers.
Fill a bottle with 15 grams of the herbal mixture and pour extra virgin olive oil over it. Close the bottle and allow it to take on the flavor of the herbs before using it on homemade pizza.
Mix some coarse Celtic sea salt with crushed black pepper to the lavender and pink pepper mixture. Use it as a Mediterranean herbal rub for meats and fish.
Pink pepper looks like a miniature berry. Its flavor is similar to the juniper, yet distinctly perfumed and sweetly aromatic. It comes from a small shrub-like plant known as the Peruvian pepper tree.The pink peppercorn is not a derivative of the black pepper family. The dried pink berry is also called “baies rose de Bourbon” . The pink pepper is cultivated in exotic Madagascar, among other places.
Pink pepper grows in clusters and is beautifully decorative on a visible kitchen shelf amidst jars of colorful herbs. It is easily crushed with a pestle and mortar. Once the fragile berries are ground, I dust them over salmon marinated in Prosecco, add them to cantaloupe marinated with shallots, or used them to make a vinaigrette with raspberry vinegar.
Culinary lavender is fresh from the garden and not dried or perfumed. The most famous area in the world for lavender cultivation is to be found in the southeast of France, in the region known as the Provence. The soothing quality of lavender is renowned. I love lavender for its perfume and for its color.
Rosemary is my favorite herb. Not a single balcony or garden in Italy is without at least one pot of rosemary. The most beautiful is the climbing sort, that blooms with light blue flowers. Rosemary is prevalent throughout the Mediterranean but is an herbal essential in the Italian kitchen. It’s needle-like leaves have a perfume similar to pine mixed with mint.