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How to grow and use burnet.

A pretty herb, fresh burnet Poterium sanguisorba) gives a lacy look and a light cucumber flavor to foods it accompanies.

Though burnet is a fairly well-known herb, it's rarely seen in markets. But because it's easy to grow and prolific when established, you can use garden-grown leaves and stems liberally-as in the following recipes for cucumber salad and dainty tea sandwiches.

Native to Europe and western Asia, burnet is very much a part of the cuisine of France, where it's used as a seasoning for dressings, salads, soups, and sauces that benefit from its elusive cucumber taste.

Buying seeds and growing burnet

Plant burnet seeds in the fall in an area that gets full sun. Or start with nursery seedlings in mild weather. With adequate moisture and good drainage, burnet thrives even in poor soil; it's a hardy perennial that self-sows freely.

Start cutting the herb when you get a big flush of leaves, as weather starts to warm-usually in spring or early summer. The plant grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches, bearing clusters of minute blossoms on the ends of stems. To keep plants vigorous and limit self-seeding, cut flowers (they are good to eat, too) as they appear.

Look for burnet in specialty nurseries. Or order by mail. J.L. Hudson, Seedsman (Box 1058, Redwood City, Calif. 94064), has seeds for $1 per packet plus 40 cents shipping (catalog $1). Taylor's Herb Gardens, Inc. (1535 Lone Oak Rd., Vista, Calif. 92083) sells plants and seeds; minimum order of six herbs, which you choose from a large selection, costs $18 postpaid, while seeds are 90 cents a packet postpaid (catalog $1).

If you want to try these recipes before your burnet is ready to harvest, you can substitute Italian parsley.

Vinegared Cucumbers with Burnet

2 medium-size cucumbers (or 1 1/2

European-style cucumbers)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons firmly packed minced

burnet leaves or Italian parsley

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Burnet or Italian parsley sprigs

Peel cucumbers and thinly slice. In a bowl, mix cucumber slices with salt. Cover and chill 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Drain accumulated liquid from cucumbers. Stir in vinegar, burnet, sugar, dill weed, and pepper. Mound cucumbers on a serving plate; garnish with burnet sprigs. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Burnet and Butter Tea Sandwiches

2 tablespoons firmly packed burnet

leaves or Italian parsley

1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room


8 slices firm-textured white bread

24 sprigs burnet or Italian parsley

In a food processor or blender, whirl burnet leaves until minced. Add butter and whirl again until it turns pale green.

Trim crusts from bread; slice each piece of bread into 3 long fingers. Spread each finger with butter, using all. Place 1 sprig burnet lengthwise on each piece of buttered bread, cutting to fit the length. Makes 24 tea sandwiches.

Burnet and Salmon Tea Sandwiches

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

3 tablespoons firmly packed burnet

or Italian parsley leaves

8 slices firm-textured white bread

About 3/4 pound cooked salmon,

fresh or canned

32 sprigs burnet or Italian parsley

In a food processor or blender, whirl sour cream with horseradish and burnet leaves until leaves are minced and sour cream turns pale green; chill to firm, 2 hours or up to overnight.

Trim crusts from bread; slice each piece of bread into 4 triangles. Spread each piece of bread with sour cream mixture, using all.

With your fingers, gently pull salmon apart into 32 equal-size pieces; remove and discard skin and bones. Place 1 piece salmon on each triangle; top each with 1 sprig burnet. Makes 32 tea sandwiches.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Sep 1, 1987
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