Cooking with Bay Leaves! 🍃🍃🍃
Have you ever been out at a restaurant or someone's house and you find a mysterious leaf in your food, and you wonder where it came from? Or maybe you are one of those cooks who knows already what those little things are--Bay Leaves! But let's be honest here, sometimes we put odd ingredients in our food, and we have NO idea why! Bay Leaves are often listed in recipes for food like soups and stews--you put a couple of them in while dinner cooks, take them out, and serve. If you are like me, you followed these ingredients with your due diligence, but had no idea what the Bay Leaves were for! So why do people put them in their food anyway?
The Bay Leaf's scientific name is Laurus Nobilis. You might find some other plants that are referred to as Bay Leaves, but the Laurus Nobilis is what you want to look for. Fresh, the leaves are definitely have a smell and taste, but it is less strong and more close to menthol than what we look for in the kitchen. Once the leaves are dry, their taste and smell matures--they become more sweet and herbal. In cooking, you can use them whole, cut, or ground! People compare Bay Leaves to oregano, thyme, camphor, and eucalyptus, but they have a unique taste that makes them irreplaceable in certain recipes. I find that they bring a woodsy, floral quality to my food!
Bay Leaves actually have a long and honored history in more than cooking! In Greek and Roman cultures, Bay Leaves represented wisdom, victory, and protection. The leaves were said to be chewed by sages to promote visions. In addition, garlands of laurels (including Bay Leaves, among others) were given to athletes, artists, and others as a symbol of their successes. We see these traditional beliefs carried into modern herb lore: Those who use herbs for their magickal properties believe that Bay Leaves can be used for protection, bringing wisdom, and granting wishes.
As if all this wasn't enough, Bay Leaves also boast amazing health properties! They have been used to aid in detoxing, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, enhancing heart health, regulating blood sugar, and more! The leaves contain many of the essential nutrients and minerals humans need for optimal health. Bay Leaves are also said to support the digestive system in processing and retaining important nutrients. In addition to the leaf, Bay Essential Oil has been used. To be safe, pregnant and nursing women should be cautious in using these leaves 💕💕
Commonly, Bay Leaves are used in stews, soups, Italian dishes, French cooking, and other recipes. We wanted to make an easy recipe, something that we hoped would really bring out the taste of the leaves... I came up with this Roasted Potatoes Recipe!
Whole potatoes (to fill a cast iron pan)
Cracked Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 375°.
Coat bottom of cast iron pan with olive oil.
Slice the potatoes vertically to your desired thickness. Make sure not to cut all the way through!
Fill the cast iron pan in slices potatoes.
Coat the potatoes in olive oil.
Fill the potatoes slices with Bay Leaves!
Mix the rest of your spices (we used a pinch of each, but this is to taste!) and sprinkle on top of the potatoes.
Roast the potatoes until tender! (At least 55 minutes.)
Serve! (Most cooks will recommend removing the Bay Leaves before serving. Some even say that the Bay Leaves MUST be removed, because they are toxic to humans. This is not true! Bay Leaves are not toxic, but they are similar in appearance to other toxic leaves--guilt by association. However, the whole leaves do not soften during the cooking process, and they remain difficult to chew and swallow. This can be dangerous as both a choking hazard and as the leaves move through the body. If you are using ground Bay Leaves have no fear, but if you use the whole, or large cuts of them, we recommend removing them before serving to be safe!)
These were excellent! The Bay Leaves were perfect for such a simple dish, because the potatoes really picked up their woodsy taste! What would I do different? Instead of the spices used this time, next time I am going to use Herbs de Provence, and sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top!
For even more information on the properties of Bay Leaves, check out these awesome links!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. We make no claim to their ability to treat or cure any medical condition. This product is not to replace the care of a doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and is not to be taken as medical advise. Consult with your doctor before starting any dietary supplements, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition. Discontinue use and consult a doctor if any adverse effects occur.