Summer savory is one of the two most common varieties of an aromatic herb related to mint, the other is winter savory. There are as many as thirty kinds of savory altogether, but summer savory is easily the most popular. Summer savory is a relatively rare, niche herb in most places. You will probably have a hard time finding fresh summer savory unless you grow it. Dried ground savory is the most common form of the herb, and you are even more likely to encounter it in a blend rather than on its own. Below are some of the more common uses for summer savory.
Table of Contents
- As a dry rub or marinade ingredient
- As a pepper substitute
- In herbes de Provence
- As a bean herb
- As a fish herb
- In a bouquet garni
As a dry rub or marinade ingredient
The most popular way to use summer savory is in dry rubs and marinades. Typically, the ground form of the herb is what you would use to season meat before cooking it. The thyme, pine, and mint notes of summer savory blend well with common dry rub and marinade ingredients like garlic powder and paprika. Summer savory goes particularly well with meat dishes, especially those featuring pork and chicken. Summer savory is an important part of the poultry seasoning used on Thanksgiving turkey.
As a pepper substitute
Pepper wasn’t always as easy to find in Europe as it is now. Before pepper became widely available, summer savory was used in the same way because of its pepper-like bite. It was paired with salt and sprinkled onto food in much the same way that black pepper is today.
The use of savory as a table condiment goes back to the Ancient Romans. In modern-day Bulgaria, savory is still served at the table as part of a condiment called sharena sol; the herb is mixed with salt and paprika. Sharena sol is used at the table to flavor food, and it is sometimes sprinkled onto bread as well. Summer savory made its way to Canada via French colonists and is a key seasoning in the stew known as fricot, which is made with chicken or rabbit.
In herbes de Provence
The herbes de Provence blend includes the herbs most commonly used in Provencal cooking. Summer savory is one of the main ingredients and accompanies chervil and rosemary. Summer savory is one of the most noticeable elements in the flavor profile so you will need it if you want to assemble your version of herbes de Provence.
As a bean herb
Summer and winter savory both have the nickname bean herb because they pair so well with beans. Summer savory is sometimes suggested as an accompaniment for green beans, but it will complement any kind of bean from black beans to fava beans. Along with enhancing their taste, summer savory is believed to neutralize their flatulence-causing properties.
As a fish herb
Summer savory is versatile enough to be paired with fish but not just any fish. It is too intense and pungent for use on the more delicately flavored fish; instead, summer savory goes best with oily fish like mackerel and trout. Summer savory’s thyme and pine notes can cut through the oiliness to produce a more enjoyable dish. Use summer savory as a more flavorful alternative to parsley in gremolata, which is a kind of herb paste often served with fish.
In a bouquet garni
Summer savory is a common bouquet garni herb. Cooks might pair it with parsley and bay leaves to flavor soups and similar dishes.