A member of the mint family, lavender is a common perennial shrub that grows in any Mediterranean-like climate. Lavender has thin, woody stalks, with thin silvery gray leaves that are bushy at the base of the stem. At the top sits the skinny purple flowers, loaded with aromatic oil.
An ancient cure for headaches, lavender’s restorative powers are still extolled by aroma therapists. The flavor is floral, although some consider it soapy. In fact lavender has been used in wash water since ancient times. The name comes from the Latin lavare, meaning “to wash,” and is the root of the word lavatory (wash room) and the Spanish lavanderia (laundry).
Lavender is an integral part of the French seasoning blend Herbes de Provençe (my favorite blend ever!), but on its own it enhances all kinds of foods, just like its cousins rosemary, oregano, and sage. On the sweet side of the kitchen lavender has become popular as a dessert flavor, used in combination with fruits, chocolate, and vanilla. Here, I am harnessing its earthier characteristics.
Look for lavender in Latin American markets, health food stores, and specialty grocers. Or plant your own!
If you’ve never seen a purple potato, don’t be afraid! Their dark skin conceals a beautifully vibrate purple flesh that tastes like a sweeter version of any average potato. It is a waxy potato, so if you have trouble locating it use red or white new potatoes instead.
8 to 10 small purple Peruvian potatoes
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 TB. unsalted butter
1/4 cup lavender buds, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt
- In a large saucepan cover potatoes with water, add kosher salt, and boil until potatoes are tender. Strain water off potatoes and set aside to cool. When cool, slice potatoes into medallions.
- In a large sauté pan melt butter over medium heat. Add lavender and cook until butter solids turn dark brown. (Don’t be alarmed if they turn a little black. That just adds to the flavor.) Add potatoes and sea salt, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.