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December 17, 2007

Don’t Overlook Dill, Even if Dill Likes It That Way


Most people go about their day without once thinking of dill. While this might be surprising if we were talking about going through one’s day without giving one thought to world peace, the decline of the orangutan or unadopted children, the fact that dill goes overlooked is appropriate. In fact, there is good reason to think that dill prefers it this way.


Dill is a subtle, sweet herb whose traits are largely overlooked in a flash-in-the-pan society that favors flash-in-the-pan flavors of the month, like the strong and sometimes obnoxious cilantro or blackening seasoning.


Most of us associate dill with the pickle, an old timey lunch garnish that harkens back to the day of barrels that shopkeepers set a checkers board on while they smoked a pipe. It is also acknowledged as something that can spruce up tuna salad, cottage cheese or various potato-related recipes.


It also serves as a good flavoring for seafood, which provides an easy segue into the use of dill to flavor pasta (when combined with butter, in fact, it turns a bowl of buttered noodles into an excuse to raise one’s fork in salute to the chef – huzzah!).


Start with cooked, peeled shrimp and a packet of imitation crab. You will know this imitation crab by its name, chiefly because some crafty wag long ago understood that K and C can be interchanged, and that only the most unobservant won’t notice that what they’re actually paying for is colored and flavored fish chunks processed into something resembling crab.


Heat in olive oil, chopped onions and pressed garlic. You will want to do this slowly, so as not to dry out the shrimp.


Once flavors have begun to gently meld together, add chunks of broccoli, then cover. This will trap steam that will soften the broccoli and keep everything moist.


While this takes place, boil pasta. Choice is important. Choose wrong, and you will suffer.


You will want something short to represent the chunked nature of the seafood and broccoli, and you will want something for which the sauce isn’t expected to penetrate an internal chamber. This leaves spaghetti and penne out. It leaves in farfalle.


Boil a box of farfalle for 8-10 minutes, which is about as much time as the broccoli will require. Drain and add to the pan, turning it over and over until the pasta and seafood contribution is mixed.


We’ve gotten nearly to the end of this, and you may have forgotten that we started this journey with dill. Good, dill says, I prefer to go overlooked.


But now is the time to put our overly modest friend to work. Because it is delicate, it should be added towards the end.


Stir it in, and it will take on a lustrous green look as it heats. It’s subtle sweetness will provide a nice complement to the processed, fake crab. You will say, “Dill, where have you been all my life?”


“Over on the counter, sir,” it will respond, “just where I prefer to be.”


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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