whb: Sausage-stuffed Lovage recipe
Lovage is one of those obscure, sort of old-world herbs, that few people seem to have heard of. You may even have some in your garden, like some friends of mine, who were nevertheless, unsure exactly what it was - it looks, smells and tastes like celery, after all, but it never actually grows any celery stalks. Confusing beast.
My first recollection of lovage only goes back a decade, to one of those 9 course tasting menus at the Herbfarm, which included Columbia River sturgeon in a ragout of apples, leeks and lovage. While I liked it quite a bit, someoneElse announced then and there that he was going to have to figure out how to make it. I offered, "It's in his cookbook," and someoneElse has been offering me food with lovage ever since.
Most of the time, youngish leaves are used - they toughen as they get older, so save the mature stalks for soups and other dishes where you will remove them before serving - chopped up to lend a slightly more complex celery flavor to food.
The stalks, however, are hollow and lend themselves to all sorts of interesting uses. As a straw, for example, for a bloody mary or other vegetable juice based drink. Rumor has it that you can candy the stems like angelica, although I have never done it. You can even make them into decorative thingies by slicing them and tossing the cut pieces into ice water. Strange but true. What I wanted to try was a bit different: creating an appetizer by stuffing the fattest stems I could find with...something.
Something turned out to be Italian sausage made by Don Speranza who, along with the lovely Kitty, runs the Inn at Crippen Creek Farm, a lovely bed and breakfast one valley westward. Don's housemade sausage, along with his prize-winning focaccia and Kitty's scrumptious cinnamon rolls are just a few of the treats that guests might find awaiting them at the Inn.
Lovage Stuffed with Sausage
This was more improvisation than recipe, but this will give you a jumping-off point for your own creations. Substitute your favorite bulk sausage and flavorings, it's hard to go wrong here. Lovage is such a useful herb that it's worth buying a plant to have it on hand for this and other recipes.
The sausage mixture I stuffed the lovage with was simply this:
~pound of sausage
~1/4 cup grated parmesean
a little salt and pepper
- Mix together gently, cover and set aside.
- Cut the largest lovage stalks you have available into 5-6 inch lengths, cutting out the spots where a new leaf come off the stalk - it is not hollow at that point. Slice each piece of stalk lengthwise once.
- Holding the stem apart, gently stuff sausage until it is full enough to stop the stalk from closing.
- Bake in a preheated 375 oven for ~15-20 minutes, until the sausage is browned and the lovage is softened somewhat. Serve hot. The lovage stem may be eaten or not, your choice.