The other day at the farmers market, we were lucky enough to stumble across some fresh angelica. The cut plants were in a basket beside the stall, dramatic beauties with long, hollow stalks, serrated leaves and drooping, umbels of green and white flowers. Having never played with fresh angelica we were instantly intrigued. We knew that the stems were often candied for their bittersweet, slightly warm, and aromatic flavor. Angelica has been described as musky and herbal and is often paired with juniper due to their similar flavor profiles.
The entire plant can be used or culinary purposes. In addition to being candied, the stems may be stripped of their leaves, peeled, and eaten raw. The leaves can be dried and used for tea. They can also be combined with the stems, coarsely shopped and steeped in warm liquids to impart their unique flavorings to a variety of custards, jellies, other preparations. In the past essential oils, which were distilled from the seeds, were used by some wine makers in the Rhine area to boost the muscatel flavor of their wines. The young shoots and tenderest, leaves may be used in salads or sautés. The roots can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable and in it’s dried form is often boiled or steeped with honey and lemon as a curative beverage. Angelica is a flavoring in Chartreuse and also used in many gins. It is commonly known as a “guardian angel”. Legend has it that during the plague and angel appeared in a monk’s dream and told him to use angelica as a cure for the disease. To this day it is used in homeopathic remedies for the treatment of fevers, colds, coughs and other stomach ailments.
By far it's most common culinary guise is candied and used in a variety of desserts and baked goods. It is classically paired with rhubarb and spinach, although not necessarily at the same time. For us, we are using it with some beautiful white asparagus.