Fresh, green and feathery. Dill has been a symbol of vitality and prosperity since classical antiquity (ancient Greek and Roman times).
It has also had its place in folklore. In the Middle Ages, dill had a reputation of containing magical properties and was used as a powerful ingredient in many enchanting spells concocted by witches (love potions being one of them!) while at the same time it was also thought to provide protection against their very witchcraft, not to mention ward off hiccups, hunger and boredom!
The modern word dill stems from the Norse word “dilla” which means “to lull” or “soothe” due to the belief in its soothing and sedative effect. In the kitchen, its feathery leaves and fresh flavor are enjoyed as accompaniment to many dishes and as an attractive garnish.
There are many powerful health benefits associated with dill—both the seeds and the leaves. Some common benefits are:
- Boosts digestive health, soothes the stomach and reduces excess gas after meals. Plus it can cure the hiccups—just drink a tea made from its seeds!
- Has anti-bacterial properties similar to those connected with garlic.
Boosts your immune system and contains an anti-inflammatory substance, which means that it can protect against arthritis.
- Protects against free radicals and neutralizes carcinogens, making it an ideal herb to eat with any food you plan to grill. Plus it helps protect you against cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke.
- Is a great source of calcium, iron and magnesium, which helps protect you from bone degradation.
- Is soothing and sedative, helping relieve troublesome bouts of insomnia.
Dills feathery leaves resemble a mild combination of parsley, anise and celery, with a subtle lemon aroma. It has a light, fresh, savory flavor and can be used generously in many dishes as it enhances other foods quite effortlessly without being overpowering.
As with many fresh herbs, dill loses flavor with too much heat so should be added during the last couple minutes of cooking to preserve its fine flavor. Or even better— if you can avoid cooking it at all then just add it to your sauces or pastas directly after the dish has been removed from the heat.
A traditional favorite in Greek, German, Scandinavian, and Middle Eastern cooking, fresh chopped dill enhances the flavor of any mustard-based sauce, all egg dishes, lentil, pea or bean soups or lamb stews, and is a delicious addition to cucumber, beet, potato, tuna, or pasta salads, as well as seafood dishes, such as salmon, trout, sea bass, or scallops.
A combination of fresh oregano and mint can be used as a substitute for dill.
Dill also makes a terrific veggie dip—mix a cup of Greek yogurt with a little finely chopped white or green onion, a teaspoon or two of capers and mustard, and a tablespoon or so of extra-virgin olive oil. Yum!
Dill seeds have a stronger flavor, are often used in breads, salads, pickling. Caraway seeds can be used as a 1:1 replacement for dill seeds.
Feta Dill Dip
1 x 200 g container Greek yogurt
150 g feta, crumbled
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
Squeeze of lemon (optional)
1. In a medium bowl, mix together ingredients until well combined.
2. Serve with chopped veggies and enjoy!
TIP: also tasty as a topping for a baked potato.
Wrap dill in a damp towel or place the stems in a glass of water and refrigerate.
Try a delicious recipe using fresh dill: