Out of all the delicious herbs in the world, Lovage is probably the most underrated of them. Although it is often passed over in favor of something like parsley, this herb has a delicious, bright flavor that can elevate the flavor of many dishes.
Lovage is in the same family as both celery and parsley, two common household greens, and can be used in similar ways. It is most popular as a garnish but it can also be cooked into soups and other recipes like casseroles. The main downside to lovage is that sometimes it can be difficult to find if you only have access to a regular supermarket.
If you can’t find lovage in your local grocery store, you’ll need to find a substitute. The best substitutes for lovage are:
- Celery leaves
- Flat-leaf parsley
- Chinese celery
- Maggi Seasoning Sauce
What Does Lovage Taste Like?
More likely than not, you’ve never tasted lovage. Although it is a more common herb in some parts of the world, it is pretty uncommon to find it in a typical supermarket.
This delicious herb is in the same family as parsley and celery and appears very similar to celery. It’s just a more slim and greener version of it with leaf topped stems that somewhat resemble parsley.
Overall, lovage has a very similar flavor to celery with a similar flavor profile to parsley as well. However, it can be described as both of these plants on steroids. It has a much more intense flavor than you would expect with a certain zing that only lovage can offer.
What are Good Lovage Substitutes?
If you don’t have access to a health food store, organic grocery store, or farmers’ market chances are you won’t be able to find lovage. Although there is no real replacement for this herb’s zesty flavor, there are some substitutes that can fulfill a similar role in your favorite dishes.
Make sure to carefully read the description of each. This will help you to pick the best lovage substitute that you can for your favorite recipes.
One of the best and easiest substitutes that you can use in place of lovage is celery leaves. Normally, when someone purchases celery the leaves are cut away and discarded. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that you can eat the celery leaves as well and they make a fantastic substitute for lovage.
Celery leaves have a very celery-like flavor just like lovage, the main flavor difference is the lack of tanginess or zest that lovage provides. It also has a slightly lighter flavor so you’ll need more to achieve the same effect.
Most of the time you won’t be able to find celery leaves sold on their own. Instead, you’ll want to buy the stalks of celery and remove the leaves from the top. The positive side to having to do this is that not only will you get a lovage substitute, but you’ll also get a healthy and fiber-filled snack.
These are also a super cheap option making them a great substitute if you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend money on specialty seasonings and garnishes.
The next substitute that you can use in the place of lovage is celeriac. Unless you are an avid home cook that likes experimenting with lots of “weirder” vegetables, you’ve probably never heard of this one. Celeriac is the root of the celery plant which grows in a shape similar to that of the ginger root.
When eaten raw it has a different texture than lovage, but the flavor is actually quite similar. Once you cook it, you’ll notice a sweeter and gentler flavor emerge. It won’t taste as much like lovage if it has been cooked, but it can still be a pretty tasty option.
The main issue that you’ll find if you choose to use celeriac as a substitute for lovage is its uses. Since it isn’t a leaf-based substitute, you won’t be able to use it as part of the base in a fresh salad or to top a sandwich.
The best ways to use this substitute include boiling it in a soup or adding it to another slow-cooked meal like a casserole. If you want to add it to a salad or use it in a different raw application, you’ll want to grate it. This will soften up the overall texture and make it easier to chew and break up the flavor a little bit.
Parsely can often be viewed as the less flavorful baby cousin of lovage. It will not provide your food with the same intensity or depth of flavor but in a pinch, it can work as a lovage substitute.
Parsley has a very similar flavor to lovage overall, just with a less intense flavor and less of the bite that lovage lovers enjoy so much. If you choose to use this substitute you can fully expect to have to use more of it to achieve a similar level of flavor.
The main benefit of using flat-leaf parsley as a substitute is that it has a very similar form and texture. Without the stalks of the plant to compare, a lot of people would have a hard time telling these two herbs apart just by looking at them. If the appearance of the dish is important to you, flat-leaf parsley is the way to go.
With its leaf shape, it is also super easy to use parsley as a garnish in the same way that lovage leaves are. You can find flat-leaf parsley in most grocery stores and it is typically sold in bunches of just the leaves. It is also super easy to grow at home as long as you have a sunny windowsill.
If you need a substitute for lovage but don’t want to go with the more generic options like celery leaves or parsley, Chinese celery could be a great option. As the name suggests, this food is in the same category as both regular celery and lovage.
Appearance-wise, Chinese celery is almost identical to lovage with thinner stems than regular celery. This makes it easier to use as an herb instead of a snack since the stems are much easier to chew than those of regular celery.
Overall, the flavor of this lovage substitute is very similar to normal lovage. The main difference is that the flavor is more intense and can also be slightly peppery, so much so that some use it as an onion substitute as well. To tone the intensity of the flavor down a bit you’ll want to cook this substitute before using it in place of lovage.
Most of the time you won’t be able to find Chinese celery at your local grocery store. However, it should be easy to find it in your closest Asian market. They typically stock ingredients that are most commonly found in Asian cuisines and are sure to be able to point you in the right direction.
Maggi Seasoning Sauce
The last substitute that you can use for lovage is maggi seasoning sauce. This option will give a very similar flavor to your dish, but it will be completely lacking in the texture and visual department.
This seasoning sauce is made from fermented wheat, so make sure to keep that in mind if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance. Its closest cousin is soy sauce but it has a much smokier and more savory flavor than soy sauce.
People frequently use this sauce in soups and as the base of other sauces to give their food a salty and savory flavor. It won’t have the same freshness that lovage provides, but it gives your food a nice tang which can help to up the flavor level. Keep in mind that this sauce has a lot of sodium which some may need to avoid for medical reasons.
Fun Facts About Lovage
- Lovage is in the same family as both celery and parsley
- Dried lovage has a stronger flavor than fresh lovage
- Lovage is enjoyed both fresh and cooked
- The plant can grow up to six feet and height if not harvested
The next time you go to make a fresh salad and are craving the bold flavor of lovage don’t feel like you have to wait until the weekend to buy some from the farmers’ market. Although nothing can truly replace the flavor of good lovage, there are a couple of substitutes that you can use to try and imitate the flavor.
Overall, the most well-rounded substitute for lovage is celery leaves. These are inexpensive and have a very similar flavor although it is a bit weaker. If you want to up the intensity of the flavor try Chinese celery. Be warned, a lot of people have to cook it down because the flavor when it’s raw is just too intense.