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As I was talking to Joe Soto, my neighbor next door, he showed me the wall of dill growing on the side of his house. He had so much dill he didn't really know what to do with it, so he told me to pick as much as I wanted. I began thinking of all the foods that can be made with dill; fish, chicken, potatoes and salad dressing. After researching, I found many other uses for dill and some good recipes.

Dill is an herb with green wispy, fernlike leaves. Dill grows in the summer and early fall. Dried dill is available all year round, but the taste of fresh dill is so much better. Fresh dill can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel or with the stems placed in water, and it must be used in a day or two. It can also be frozen in an airtight container. I am going to try to grow fresh dill from seed in a container on my windowsill. Hopefully I'll have fresh dill year round.

I used the dill I picked in healthy recipes I found on webmd.com. The favorite of my husband Bill and our son Chris was the Greek Chicken and Vegetable Ragout. This is a crockpot recipe which is nice to use on a work day. I changed the recipe by using boneless chicken breasts and I didn't add the artichoke hearts. I made this recipe twice, the first time I used boneless chicken breasts and the second time I used chicken breast tenders. I found it much more tender, tastier and moist the first time around with the breasts. I served this with a fresh garden salad with the dill dressing.

Another variation is the Lemon Dill Chicken recipe. I grilled the chicken instead of cooking it on the stove. The sauce was easy and quick to make. I served this with whole grilled red potatoes and fresh Lemon-dill green beans.

I also made a chicken dill soup using the recipe for chicken rice soup. I substituted dill in the place of the parsley and also added tortellini.

Of course I did share my food with my neighbor Joe since his wall of dill was my inspiration for this month's column.

How to Enjoy Dill

A Few Quick Serving Ideas: (All recipes from webmd.com)

• Combine dill weed with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber for a delicious cooling dip.

• Use dill when cooking fish, especially salmon and trout, as the flavors complement one another very well.

• Use dill weed as a garnish for sandwiches.

• Since dill seeds were traditionally used to soothe the stomach after meals, place some seeds in a small dish and place it on the dinner table for all to enjoy.

• Add dill to your favorite egg salad recipe.

• Mix together chopped potatoes, green beans, and plain yogurt, then season with both dill seeds and chopped dill weed.

Chicken & Rice Soup
Total Time: 30 mins

This is a great, easy chicken-and-rice soup. We like to use instant brown rice because it cooks so quickly, but you could substitute cooked brown rice (stirred in at the end) if you have it on hand. Try the recipe with other herbs if you like, such as dill or tarragon.

Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 carrots, diced

• 1 onion, diced

• 1 stalk celery, diced

• 7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

• 1 cup instant brown rice

• 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

• 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

• 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Step 1

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken and peas and gently simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, vinegar and pepper.

Lemon Dill Chicken
Total Time: 30 mins

Fresh lemon and dill create a quick Greek-inspired pan sauce for simple sautéed chicken breasts. Make it a meal: Serve with roasted broccoli and whole-wheat orzo.

Ingredients:

• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1-1 1/4 pounds)

• 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil, divided

• 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

• 2 teaspoons flour

• 2 tablespoons dill, chopped fresh, divided

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• freshly ground pepper, to taste

• salt, to taste

Instructions"

Step 1

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Step 2

Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Step 3

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.

Greek Chicken & Vegetable Ragout

Chicken thighs stay moist and succulent during slow cooking, infusing the accompanying vegetables with superb flavor. This easy braise has a luxurious finish of avgolémono, a versatile Greek sauce made with egg, lemon and fresh dill. Serve with whole-wheat orzo or crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Ingredients:

• 1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces, or 3 cups baby carrots

• 1 pound (3-4 medium) yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1 1/4-inch-wide wedges

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

• 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth

• 1/3 cup dry white wine

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered if large

• 1 large egg

• 2 large egg yolks

• 1/3 cup lemon juice

• 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

• freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

Step 1

Spread carrots and potatoes over the bottom and up the sides of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Arrange chicken on top of the vegetables. Bring broth, wine, garlic and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours on high or 4 to 4 1/2 hours on low.

Step 2

Add artichokes to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg, egg yolks and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Step 3

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Cover and keep warm. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining cooking liquid in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, whisking 2 or 3 times, until slightly thickened and sauce reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in dill and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and serve.

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