Quick Recipes and Easy

Lemon Thyme and Thyme Again

Mythologically, medicinally and horticulturally, Lemon
Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is nearly
identical to English or Common or Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), but in the kitchen the exquisite flavor and
aroma of this marvelous herb set it apart.

It grows
well in most climates and prefers a light, sandy, well-drained, dry soil in full
sun. It is one of the simplest herbs to grow in pots and will enhance the
appearance of rock walls and stone pathways. Lemon thyme comes in both a
creeping variety (Thymus pulegiodes) and
a Lemon Carpet Thyme (Thymus herba-barona
cv.), the latter developed by Richter’s Herbs in Goodwood, Ontario.

Many ancient herb gardens include
the visual pun of a “thyme clock” – a thyme topiary shaped into a clock dial
with hands permanently set at whatever hour holds some significance for the
gardener.

The word
Thymus is Greek for “courage,” but
its application to the herb may be related to the Greek word meaning “to
fumigate,” for the herb was burned to drive unwelcome insects from a house.
Thyme was also worn and burned to attract excellent health.

In
Ireland, a bed of thyme is set aside in the garden as a home to the fairies and
the legend claims that if you wash your eyes with the dew from the herb on May
1st you will be privileged to see these tiny prankish creatures. Thyme
placed under your pillow will ward off nightmares and ensure a excellent night’s
sleep.

Medicinally,
thyme may be used internally and externally, but the essential oil should never
be taken internally nor applied undiluted to the skin. Recent research has
indicated that thyme is such a powerful tonic that it is an effective counter
to age-related problems. Added to a hot bath it is certainly a potent muscle
relaxer. The herb is vigorously antiseptic and as a lotion it can be applied
directly to infected wounds. As an infusion or in a gargle, thyme may be used
to treat laryngitis and tonsillitis. Lemon thyme particularly has a reliable
reputation in the care of whooping cough and bronchitis.

But it’s
in the kitchen that lemon thyme excels. Nearly no other herb will compliment
fish or chicken as well. One caveat: unlike common thyme, lemon thyme doesn’t
retain its flavor when dried, so use fresh whenever possible.

Here’s a
rich chicken dish that uses only lemon thyme and no other herb:

Lemon-Thymely Chicken:

4 boneless chicken breasts

1/8 cup of packed fresh lemon
thyme

¾ cup of heavy cream

¼ cup of medium dry sherry

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

¼ cup of grated Romano or
Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste.

Sauté
the chicken breasts in the olive oil over medium-high heat for about five
minutes each side. Mix all the other ingredients – except the cheese – in a
baking dish (they may be mixed in a blender) and place the chicken breasts in
the dish. Spoon the mixture over the chicken and then cover with the cheese.
Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, removing the cover for the
last 10 minutes for browning. Serve over rice with vegetable of your choice.

For a
simple, healthy salad dressing, try this:

Lemon Thyme with Sherry Salad Dressing:

Juice ½
lemon then add enough apple cider vinegar to bring total to ¼ cup. Add 3 Tbsp.
of packed, fresh lemon thyme, 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil; ¼ cup of medium
dry sherry; 1 clove of garlic, crushed; 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard; pinch of
cayenne; 1 tsp. of salt (or more to taste). Mix (again a blender will
thoroughly combine the ingredients) and pour over a green salad.

Lemon
thyme and potatoes make a excellent combination. The following recipe is a flavorful
alternative to other scalloped potato recipes:

Royal Purple Potato Casserole

6-8 purple potatoes (other types of potatoes may be
substituted, but purple potatoes confer a delightful hue to this dish)
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 tsp. of olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced into ¼ inch rings
2 Tbsp. of fresh lemon thyme
½ cup of green onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup of Greek olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup of chicken or vegetable bouillon

Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch sections. Mix the
rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl with half the olive oil. Into
a lightly oiled lidded casserole alternated layers of the potatoes with the
other ingredients. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over top. Bake covered in a
preheated 400F oven for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 10
minutes. Check the potatoes for tenderness. Depending upon the type of potato
used, they may require further baking time.

Bruce Burnett is an award-winning writer, a chartered herbalist and author of HerbWise: growing cooking wellbeing. Bruce and his wife Delaine own Olivia’s Fashion, Furnishings & Gifts ( olivias.ca/ olivias.ca/) in Ladysmith, BC Canada. Read more published articles by Bruce Burnett on his websites: bruceburnett.ca/ bruceburnett.ca/ and herbalcuisine.com/ herbalcuisine.com/

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