How to grow and cook with dill

A gardener and a chef team up with advice on growing and cooking with dill. Included is an easy recipe for dill-topped, salmon-stuffed eggs.

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    Salmon-stuffed eggs are topped with fresh dill for a delicious brunch dish or salad. Dill is an easy-to-grow herb.
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Dill is a versatile herb, says Anne, the gardener. You can snip its ferny leaves to use as a garnish or let it flower and set seedheads to pick for flavoring.

Dill, like parsley, should be a staple in a butterfly garden. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on the foliage. Be sure to plant plenty to share with the resulting caterpillars. They will munch some of your leaves before turning into those beautiful creatures you see floating overhead.

How to grow dill

Dill is easy to grow. Because of its taproot, it is best planted where it can stay. You should sow dill seed outdoors quite early in spring. It prefers cool soil for germination. Dill will withstand a late frost but you should get the seeds in the ground after the heavy freezes have passed in your area.

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Sow the seeds in a sunny, well-drained spot. Barely cover them with soil. The large seeds are easy to space three to four inches apart. The little seedlings should appear in about three weeks.

Once they are up and growing, thin them out, ending with plants at least eight inches apart. Don’t let their initial small size fool you. Dill can grow to be three to five feet tall and about three feet wide.

Care is easy. Keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge and are well established. Then water the dill plants when they look droopy.

Be sure to harvest and preserve some of the ferny leaves for use later on. Kitchen shears make this chore easy. Take the longest side branches and leave the top to continue growing.

The plants will bloom and go to seed as the days lengthen and heat up. When summer has turned on the heat, the plants will die.

Cooks and gardeners with very little room can still grow a dwarf variety of dill indoors in a pot or in a corner of the garden. Its bluish-green, wispy foliage even looks at home nestled in amongst the flowers.

Salmon-Stuffed Eggs With Fresh Dill

Surprise! says Chef Linda Weiss. We put salmon in the eggs. Talk about really good! I have used fresh salmon rubbed in olive oil, salt, and pepper and then put in the oven to roast until just right.

Putting that together with the traditional taste of stuffed eggs and a little fresh dill is amazing.

This would be a great brunch recipe. As an appetizer, it would be terrific to hold your guests over while the smell of dinner is wafting to their noses .

Another way that I found to serve the salmon-stuffed eggs is on a salad with fresh arugula. There is just something about the slightly bitter taste of arugula and the sweetness of the salmon.

I really enjoyed the salads that I made with the eggs more than any other way, so if you have any left over, then you will really enjoy them for lunch the next day.

Let me not forget that yet another way to eat the egg is on a toasted bagel half. What could be better than salmon, egg, dill pickle, and fresh dill? It is already prepared for the bagel. You just spread it on.

Salmon-Stuffed Eggs With Dill

4 boiled eggs

3 crackers, finely crushed (I used Club Crackers)

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill pickle

3 tablespoons freshly baked salmon, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon or more (to taste) fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish

Mayonnaise to moisten well

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut boiled eggs in half and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Add the crushed crackers, dill pickle, fresh dill, and salmon. Add enough mayonnaise to moisten well. Stuff the eggs. Add a little bit of salmon and dill to the top of each egg. Serves 4.

Notes: If you want the salmon a little more pronounced, add a little extra mayonnaise, mix all ingredients except the salmon, and then gently fold in the salmon. About the crackers: When I tell people that I add crackers to these stuffed eggs, they think that it is for filler but it’s really for texture and taste. The crackers give the eggs another level of flavor with sweetness. Try it, and I think you will know what I am talking about.

Editor's Note: To read more of Anne and Linda's "how to grow and prepare" series, click here.

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Linda Weiss and Anne Moore met while Linda was the food editor and Anne was the garden editor for South Carolina Homes & Gardens magazine. They now write articles for the ETV GardenSMART television show website, where Anne is the horticulture editor, gardening consultant, and e-newsletter editor. Anne has written for magazines and newspapers. She is a member of and a recipient of a Silver Award for magazine writing from the Garden Writers Association. Linda is a personal chef. She attended Le Cordon Bleu of Paris’ catering program, has appeared as a guest chef on numerous television shows, has been a culinary educator for 10 years, and a food writer for a number of magazines. She is a professional member of The James Beard Foundation and the Southern Foodways Alliance. She has written a cookbook, "Memories From Home, Cooking with Family and Friends."

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