Although usually thought of as a herb, lovage is a large celery-like plant that can grow taller than a man. Part of the Umbelliferae family, which also includes carrots, parsley and dill, it is not often found on sale today but was very popular in Roman times. It is easy and rewarding to grow at home as it has two seasons each year. Lovage has a strong, musky flavour similar to celery but with lemon notes. It is best used fresh, and sparingly.
Lovage is a traditional favourite in Scotland, so try it with game such as pheasant, or combine with smoked haddock and bacon or ham. It is also good with chicken.
Add a spoonful of the chopped leaves, or the seeds, to savoury, cheesy doughs as you would chives or parsley. Sprinkle the chopped leaves over plates of green beans or peas, or add them to salads. Lovage can be a good substitute for dill, parsley, chervil or tarragon, and can be used instead of basil to make pesto. Soup is another typical use. The stalks can be treated the same way as celery, or crystallised like angelica.