Maybe its seeds spend too much time among processed pickles and peppers, but to call its lovely leaves “dill weed,” well, that just doesn’t seem fair. Fresh dill is a delicacy. Its fine feathery fronds are a gourmet green, with a sweet tangy flavor and a fruity fragrance, and its seeds, more potent, are a savory spice.
Grow it at home, and see for yourself. Dill is delightful in the garden, or potted on your patio. When slim stems bow in the summer breeze, little wands waving and fronds aflutter, dill makes a place mellow. It softens rough edges with easy-going grace, and when its parasols shimmer with morning dew, and butterflies pause and bat their wings, it’s the kind of place that little ones like, a magical place for waiting and watching. (Surely the fairies frolic here, too.)
If your kids pick a few lacy parasols for you, they make lovely bouquets for your kitchen countertop. Look closely at one light-green umbel, its filigree of tiny yellow flowers, and you will see what the children see—dill is a wonder, a work of art.
Dill in the kitchen
In the kitchen, frilly fronds of dill dress up potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and bell peppers, among other things, and fresh dill leaf pairs well with lemon, lime, or Dijon mustard.
Pinch off the delicate leaves as needed, and sprinkle them among salad greens, in wraps, spring rolls, dips, soups, and sandwiches. Try my so-simple Dill, Dijon dressing, which I pour on just about everything, including potato salad.
Dill, Dijon dressing
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized)
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- ½ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. 100% maple syrup
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup or so of fresh dill leaves, shredded by hand
Put all ingredients into a recycled glass jar. Put the lid on tightly and shake the jar to mix everything thoroughly. Chill. (You can jazz this up with added fresh parsley, minced garlic, chives, sweet marjoram, to name a few. Use your imagination.)
Dill, Dijon potato salad
- 1 5-pound bag of tiny golden potatoes (waxy skin)
- Dill, Djon dressing (above)
- A handful of fresh dill leaves, and a few nasturtium leaves
Scrub the potatoes and remove spots or eyes. Don’t remove the skin. Boil the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork-tender but not mushy. Drain the potatoes and let them cool, then put them into a large serving bowl and drizzle with dressing. Break up the dill leaves and mix them in gently, and add the nasturtium leaves. Cover the bowl with a plate. Chill for a few hours, then enjoy.
Dill is healthy and healing
You knew this already. Dill is a superfood, with lots of vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients. It is also mildly anti-inflammatory. It has a good lysine ratio, although it is not a complete protein food.
Dill is an herbal remedy. The Norse word “dylla” means “to sooth,” according to medical herbalist Andrew Chevallier. He notes that dill is especially soothing for the stomach. Dill relieves gas, cramps, spasms, period pains, and colic in nursing infants if the mother eats dill regularly. Dill also increases milk production, and acts as a mild diuretic, he says.
Dill is soothing to the spirit as well. After dinner (or during), a garden full of flowering dill calls one to long lingering. Leave all your worries for a little while. Listen. Look for ladybugs. Study the slow wink of swallowtail wings. Breathe in… breathe out… and let your kids silly sally. As evening wanes, watch the flickering of fireflies (the little lanterns of fairies flying by). Stay up late and show them the stars. Dilly-dally.
When day is done, there is one more use for this comforting herb. As the ancient Greeks knew, the calming properties of dill leaf help to lull little ones (and you) to sleep. So eat dill, and sweet dreams.
~Butterflies, fireflies, ladybugs, and other helpful bugs will come to your garden if you plant dill. In fact, black swallowtail butterflies like dill so well that they may decide to stay. The females lay their eggs on dill (and other related umbelliferous plants) to ensure their offspring a tasty and healthful treat. If you sequester the stripy green caterpillars on just a few plants, you can grow beautiful butterflies and have your dill, too.
~When dill flowers fade and seeds turn light brown, snip off each umbrella and save the seeds. This a great project for kids. Older children can cut the stems, and younger ones can collect them in a bag. Remove the seeds and (when completely dried) store them in a recycled glass spice jar. The following spring, find a sunny space, and let your children shake and sow.
Disclaimer—The articles here are not intended as medical, nutritional, or other professional advice. The ideas presented are my own, unless otherwise noted, and are for informational purposes only. Please use this information with discretion.