One of the pleasures of having an embarrassment of lavender in the summer garden is thinking up new ways to use it. The sturdy, square stems of Lavender “Grosso,” for instance, make perfect skewers for grilled shrimp. Marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and briefly charred over a hardwood charcoal fire, the shrimp come to the table tasting of smoke, the salty tang of the ocean and just a hint of sweet, faintly camphorous lavender flavor. You could also substitute boneless chicken thighs or chunks of lamb for the shrimp.
To serve 4
1 pound large shrimp in their shells
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A pinch of fresh or dried culinary lavender flowers
6 sturdy stems of fresh or dried lavender, about 10 inches long (see note)
1. Devein the shrimp by cutting down the backs of their shells with a sharp paring knife. Rinse and pat dry. Do not remove the shells or the legs.
2. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and lavender flowers. Add the shrimp, mix well and set aside to marinate.
3. Soak the fresh or dried lavender stems in water for 5 minutes. Remove and pat dry.
4. In your grill, build a fire of hardwood charcoal. When the coals are hot but no longer flaming, thread the shrimp onto the lavender skewers and place them on the grill. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp are opaque and the shells are just slightly charred.
5. Serve each person a skewer of shrimp, along with 2 or 3 more shrimp that have been removed from the remaining lavender stems. Accompany the shrimp with a simple salad of mixed lettuces in a vinaigrette and ears of sweet corn grilled in their husks.
Note: Dried culinary lavender and bundles of dried lavender stems may be ordered from www.sunshinelavenderfarm.com.