In an uncharacteristic moment last summer, I got organised enough to plant up an old tin bucket with herbs so there would be fresh leaves by the back door to pick through the winter. On the whole the plants have grown well. The prostrate rosemary is happily producing flowers, despite the fact that there are no insects around just now to enjoy them. And the orange-scented thyme is getting bigger. But the sage is looking really sad and I’m not sure if it will make it through to the spring. I still don’t know why it is the green and gold variegated sage is the only variety that doesn’t give up at the first sign of winter in my garden.
The fourth herb to go in the bucket was winter savory (Satureja montana), and this too is looking good, with lots of glossy, dark green leaves. It’s an evergreen perennial herb that doesn’t demand too much, as long as it gets lots of sun and has well-drained soil at its roots. My plant didn’t flower last summer – I’m hoping it will this year because the white flowers are good for bees. And, as an added bonus, the leaves are supposed to reduce the pain of bee stings if they are rubbed onto the skin.
Up until recently, I’d been picking just the rosemary and thyme leaves for cooking. But being as the savory was there by the back door too, it seemed only right to give it a try. What to do with it though? It has a flavour that reminds me a bit of thyme and sage mixed together in the one leaf – not a bad combination, and one that should go well in lots of dishes.
Like its summer cousin, winter savory is good with beans. So for my first foray into the world of winter savory cuisine, I added some fresh sprigs to butter beans and cooked them with onions and celery. With some chilli for a bit of heat, and lemon zest for extra zing it all came together to make a fresh and tasty dish. To mop up the sauce, I made some quick and easy flatbread using Andrea’s recipe from Shabby Chick (it’s really good!). I kneaded some finely chopped rosemary leaves and flaked sea salt into the dough before it was rolled out and cooked. Then all that was needed was a green salad to make a hearty lunch for two.
With winter savoury in the beans, rosemary in the flatbread, and a good handful of parsley in the green salad, this has to be my entry for January’s Herbs on Saturday. Vanesther at Bangers and Mash is doing a great job of hosting the challenge for Karen this month – there are some delicious sounding recipes there already.
Creamy lemon butter beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
½ – 1 large red chilli (depending on how much heat you want), finely chopped
1 400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
2 sprigs of winter savory
100ml vegetable stock
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
finely grated zest of ½ an unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp grated parmesan
a squeeze of lemon juice
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the celery, stir and sauté for a few minutes more, until both the onion and celery are softened. Add the chilli, butter beans and sprigs of savoury and stir everything together. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to medium and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes – until there is not much liquid left in the pan.
Test the beans for seasoning – add salt and/or pepper to taste. Then turn the heat down to low and add the lemon zest and cream. Stir these in and allow the cream to heat through. Just before serving, stir in the parmesan and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Andrea Mynard said:
The butterbeans sound great, must give them a go. Like idea of adding rosemary and seasalt to the flatbread recipe too – thanks lots for mention! Andrea
I think I’ll be experimenting with adding different flavours to the flatbread, as well as using it ‘plain’ of course!
Oh yes, this looks and sounds delicious. I’m thinking about what to plant in the garden this year – so would you recommend Savoury for a novice gardener? A perfect entry for Herbs on Saturday – thank you so much for entering. 🙂
The savory will tolerate quite a bit of neglect, so should be good and easy to grow in the right conditions. But if it’s for a kitchen garden, your best bet is to choose things that you know you like to eat.
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Only yesterday I added this to my list for growing this year! The recipe sounds delicious. 😀
Thanks Cathy! I think I’m going to have to find more recipes for using savory.
Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand said:
I do love butter beans but I’m used to having them with tomatoes and chorizo so it’s lovely to see them served in a zesty lemon sauce with flatbreads. Love the idea of planting the herbs in a tin bucket.
The planted up bucket is to save me walking down the garden in the winter mud to fetch herbs! There’s a lovely Ottolenghi recipe for butter beans with sweet chilli sauce and herbs (no savory though!) – have you tried it?
I’ve never grown savoury as I’ve never known what to do with it. I do like the idea of pairing it with beans though.
I’m still not sure it has many uses – supposed to go well with some fish and meats like pork, but being vegetarian I’ve not tried those!
Food and Forage Hebrides said:
I use winter savory mainly for adding to bouquet garnis when a classic recipe calls for summer savory but it has died back. I will try your bean recommendation too. Coincidentally, I am just about to publish a post on my herb selection 2013. Thanks also for your mention of Homegrown Revolution – I was trying in vain to recall the name of the book. I have referenced you in my post, hope that’s OK. Thanks, Tracey
I’ve never managed to get summer savory to germinate – do you have any tips? Looking forward to reading about your herbs selection for this year.
Food and Forage Hebrides said:
I sowed it in the polytunnel using my own compost. I covered it with a thin layer of seived compost. As I recall, the % of seeds sown that germinated was low and it was quite slow to germinate, much like I find with rosemary. Once a seedling appears, it grows fast and I transplanted them outside after hardening off in the cold frame. I think sowing a lot of seed would be a good plan. Tracey
Thanks Tracey – I’ll get some fresh seed and give it one last chance this year!
Food and Forage Hebrides said:
Best of luck! Tracey
I love your recipe and you have reminded me that I have a big savory plant in my garden which I must make more use of. As far as your sage goes, I would give it a bit more time as mine tends to look really dead in the winter but always comes back in spring. I love all the hardy herbs and I must try and order some unusual ones this year from Jekka’s herb farm. Happy New Year!
OK – the sage gets a reprieve, until spring at least! Thanks Laura, and a happy new year to you too!
Chez Foti said:
Oh this looks right up my street! I’ve made in the past something very similar with cannellini beans and served it like bruschetta on garlic toast. But I’m definitely going to try your recipe AND with Andrea’s flatbread too…though sadly not with winter savory as I don’t have any 😦
I’m sure it will be good without the savory! Cannellini beans are a favourite here too – great cooked gently with oil and garlic…
@Lavender and Lovage (@KarenBurnsBooth) said:
I have tried to comment twice before, but I had problems logging into comment, so sorry I am late! Winter savory is one if my very favourite herbs, as well as summer savory too! A wonderful recipe thanks Sarah and one that I would quite happily make myself, thanks so much for your entry into Herbs on Saturday. Karen
Thanks Karen! Glad you kept trying with your comment – sometimes things take that much longer with technology…
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Dawn McLaren said:
Winter and summer savory – particularly good with beans for combatting flatlulence. Tastes brill too.
My favourite culinary use for savoury is with green (runner) beans! Use with parsley, garlic, chilli flakes (or fresh chilli) salt and lemon juice, with a pinch of sugar. Lightly steam beans then fry quickly (using olive oil and butter) with other ingredients until just getting crispy. Delicious! Don’t use too much winter savoury – it is a deceptively strong herb. I use about 2 – 3 parts parsley to 1 part savoury. Hope you enjoy; my family can’t get enough – the possums ate all my savoury last year so I have to ration my new crop until it is established.