Lemon Balm Recipes

By Sherril Steele-Carlin

If you long for a lemon tree in your backyard, lemon balm may be just the answer to your prayers. Lemony, with just a touch of mint is how the flavor has been described. Lemon balm can be used in just about every course of a meal from appetizer to dessert and beyond.

Lemon Balm Pesto

  • 2 cups fresh lemon balm
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until chunky, but not too well blended. Use to baste broiled or grilled fish or chicken, or serve as traditional pesto over pasta. (See recipe below.) Makes about 2 cups.

Lemon Pesto Shells

  • 12 oz. box jumbo pasta shells
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, margarine, or olive oil
  • 3 cups lemon pesto (make a double batch of above recipe)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper

Blend ricotta cheese, garlic, onion, pesto, and pepper in a food processor just until blended. Cook shells according to directions. Drain and return to pot, coat lightly with olive oil to keep from sticking. When cool, fill each shell with lemon pesto. Place in two baking pans sprayed with non-stick spray, sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil and back at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Makes about 8 servings.

Lemon Balm Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon balm, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 8 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix first 7 ingredients together, then slowly blend in the oil. Mix well before serving. This is delicious on salads, especially fish or chicken salads. You can also marinate chicken or fish piece in this mixture before cooking. After cooking, serve the vinaigrette as a sauce. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Lemon Balm Appetizers

  • 1 cup chicken, cooked
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1/4 celery, diced
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon balm, minced
  • Whole lemon balm leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill until just before serving. Spoon onto crackers or toasted French bread slices. Garnish with fresh whole leaves. Makes 6 servings.

Lemon Kebobs

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 lbs. Leg of lamb, boned and cubed
  • 1 lg. onion, cut in chunks
  • 2 lg. handfuls lemon balm leaves

Marinade:

  • 2 oz. wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground tumeric
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. mango chutney
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 chilies
  • Fresh ground pepper

Cut lamb into 1-inch cubes. Rub surface of a deep dish with the cut garlic clove. Place lamb cubes in dish, cover with layer of onion, add cut garlic pieces, and top with lemon balm leaves. Marinade: boil vinegar, coriander, cumin, chili powder, tumeric, brown sugar, chutney and bay leaves together for 5 minutes, let cool. Pour cooled marinade over meat. Add chilies and pepper. Cover and chill overnight in refrigerator. Drain lamb and onion pieces, thread onto metal skewers. Barbecue for 15 or 20 minutes, or until browned. Discard marinade. Makes 6 servings.

Lemon Balm Desserts

We're not done with lemon balm. This minty-lemony herb can add a dose of vibrant flavor to a huge range of desserts-dishes you might not have ever thought about adding lemon to. A few examples:

Raspberry Mold

  • 12 oz. fresh raspberries
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon balm, chopped
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • Whole lemon balm leaves

Clean and wash raspberries. Place in a saucepan with chopped lemon balm leaves and honey. Cover, set on low heat for 15 minutes, or until soft and very juicy. Press through a sieve. Return puree to the washed pot. Bring almost to a boil over low heat. Lightly sprinkle in gelatin and stir until dissolved. Remove pan from heat. Pour jelly into a small pie plate or small mold. Place in refrigerator to set. Turn mold onto a serving plate. Whip cream and cover mold with the whipped cream. Decorate with lemon balm leaves. Makes 4 servings

Cheesecake with Lemon Balm

Pastry:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • Pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 Tbsp. lemon balm, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. First, make pastry. Sift flour and salt into medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough water to make a soft dough. Roll out to line a 7-inch quiche dish. Bake unfilled for 15 minutes. For filling: beat margarine, honey, and cream cheese together in a bowl until soft and creamy. Beat in eggs and fold in lemon balm. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour filling into baked pastry shell. Bake for 45 minutes or until filling is golden and set, but not cracked. Serve with whipped cream, or cover chilled cake with a thin layer of sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

Lemon Balm Cake with Blueberries

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp. lemon balm
  • 1 Tbsp. lemongrass
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon thyme
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scald milk, Place milk, lemon balm, lemongrass, and lemon thyme in food processor or blender. Process until well chopped. Set aside to allow flavors to blend. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Place milk mixture and flour mixture in a food processor. Add eggs, sugar, butter, and lemon zest. Blend well until dough is mixed. Combine the blueberries into the dough by hand. Pour mixture into greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick, if batter remains on toothpick, bake for a few more minutes. Glaze if desired, or serve dusted with powdered sugar. Makes 1 loaf.

Lemon Balm Fruit Dip

  • 2 oz. unsalted margarine or butter 8 oz. cream cheese, or low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp. orange juice or orange liqueur
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon balm, chopped
  • Fresh fruit

Allow margarine and cream cheese to soften, then blend together in a medium bowl. Mix in the other ingredients. Let the dip chill overnight to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature with fresh strawberries, orange slices, grapes, and pineapple chunks. This dip will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. It is nice served as the ending to brunch or an appetizer to begin a buffet. Makes about 12 ounces of dip.

Adding lemon balm to your recipes will give them a little added kick, so it's a great herb to keep growing in the kitchen herb garden.