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What to do with zuta levana, a.k.a. white savory

Posted By Liz On January 18, 2009 @ 1:00 am In Israeli food culture,Parve,Vegan | 1 Comment


I'm off to the United States for the rest of the month, so what better time to write about an herb that grows primarily in the Galilee?

I had my first real run-in with zuta levana (זוטא לבנה) at the Tel Aviv port farmer's market [1]. Sure, I'd noticed it in plant nurseries before, but I never considered buying it, since it was described as just another herb for making tea.

In any case, the guys from Carmel Yevulim [2] pretty much forced a bunch of herbs on me -- it was the end of the day, and they were trying to clear out. So I took it home. Then, the question became what to do with it.

But first, a little about the plant itself: Zuta levana, or white savory, is a small shrub that grows wild [3] in Israel, particularly in the Galilee. It has a pale, slivery color, and its small leaves have a fuzzy texture. The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry [4] states that the tea is good for easing stomach pains and sore throats. And a warning: Its oil contains pulegone [5], which is considered dangerous for pregnant women.

And a little confession: I didn't know anything about this plant was at first, so I tried looking it up online -- and didn't find anything in Wikipedia. So after a bit of research, I wrote the entry [6] myself.


The most obvious solution -- since this is what most people do with it. The herb is fragrant, and as a member of the mint family, it has a menthol essence -- its smell kind of reminds me of Ben-Gay, but in a good way. And it makes a fabulous tea, with a strong blast of menthol, and the taste of what a friend thought was sage.

zuta-levana-saladCHOPPED IN SALADS

I tossed some leaves into a chopped salad, in place of mint or parsley, and added some black olive tapenade as well. Both have quite prominent flavors, and make an interesting combination, giving salads a taste you don't expect. (This salad also included tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, onion and carrot).

colorful-vegetablesFRIED OVER COOKED FOODS

The herb is also quite nice as a flavoring for cooked foods. I got good results by frying leaves until crunchy in a bit of olive oil, and sprinkling over vegetables for flavor (See my last post: Crayon-box vegetables [7]).


Try mixing a few leaves with olive oil and salt, and using to dip bread.


While I didn't try this at home, since I don't really cook that much fish, I suspect that it would also be quite good topping a salmon or musht, along with some lemon.

Article printed from Cafe Liz: http://food.lizsteinberg.com

URL to article: http://food.lizsteinberg.com/2009/01/18/what-to-do-with-zuta-levana-aka-white-savory/

URLs in this post:

[1] Tel Aviv port farmer's market: http://www.farmersmarket.co.il/bloge/

[2] Carmel Yevulim: http://www.carmels.co.il/

[3] grows wild: http://www.wildflowers.co.il/english/plant.asp?ID=74

[4] Environmental Protection Ministry: http://www.sviva.gov.il/bin/en.jsp?enPage=BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=Object&enDispWho=Articals^l3828&enZone=summer_flowers

[5] pulegone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulegone

[6] the entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromeria_fruticosa

[7] Crayon-box vegetables: http://food.lizsteinberg.com/2009/01/15/crayon-box-vegetables-with-crispy-herbs/

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