Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The savory sensation

Summer savory/Winter savory/Garden savory/Segurelha,all these many varieties but still it remains the poor cousin herb;native of the Mediterranean region, well known to the ancient Romans, but lesser known to us nowadays.They used vinegar flavoured with savory and other herbs as we use mint sauce. Indeed  Virgil noted it as  being one of the most fragrant of all herbs.It always makes me think that it is the forgotten one when I go to get my jar of Herbes de Provence to make a lovely home made vinaigrette. Segurelha as it is called in Portugal and Provence adds that je ne sais quoi to a truly fine vinaigrette. It is recommended both for culinary use and for planting near bee-hives,where the herb is responsible for the fragrance of the honey. I feel a Segurelha honey moment coming on.The leaves and tender shoots are used,with other herbs, in stuffing  for meats, meat pies and sausages. 
Fresh sprigs of Savory boiled with peas or new potatoes makes an unusual change from the cooks normal choice of mint.Summer savory is an erect,bushy, rather densely pubescent annual that grows  about 6 to 18 inches high, so is ideal for growing on city roof terraces or back yards where culinary growing space is at a premium. Its taste is highly aromatic, and recalls thyme and marjoram,but at the same time remaining totally distinct.
One of my favourite marriages is that of savory and pizza, its simply irresistible.
Once tried never forgotten.It blends beautifully with different culinary oreganos,basils and thymes. Its small leaves are the perfect compliment to herb cheeses or as a last-minute addition to a sauté. However even though it has a strong flavour when fresh,it does not hold up well to prolonged stewing.There are very few dishes that a little Savory won't improve.
Baked tomatoes with goats cheese and herbs
1 to 2 logs of goats cheese (chèvre )
1 tomato per person
Basil Thyme Segurelha
handful of stoned black olives chopped
fresh dried breadcrumbs
Cut the cheese into slices.With a teaspoon scoop out the seeds and flesh from the tomatoes.Discard.Lay the slices of goats cheese overlapping with the olives in each tomato shell.Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and finish with a generous sprinkling of your choice of herbs.Put the stuffed shells in an ovenproof dish or on a roasting tray.
Put the tomatoes in a pre-heated oven and bake under the grill for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and spread over the whole shell.
This recipe works equally well with halved red pepper shells.

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