If all you think of when you hear "lavender" is the color of the walls at your aunt's house or body care products, you might want to think again. The aromatic herb lavender is a relative of mint and adds a lovely flavor to a variety of foods. It's one the herbs used in the blend Herbes de Provence.

I recently sampled the Lavender Vinaigrette and Marinade from Montebello Kitchens and do believe that it's my new favorite marinade of the year. It's often hard to find bottled marinades that aren't loaded with sugar; this one has no sugar added but is sweetened with organic agave nectar. It also contains grapeseed oil, which is considered one of the "healthy fats" because it's high in vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids.

The lavender in this marinade is nice and subtle and not too "perfumy". It's only slightly sweet, and has a tang from lime juice, Dijon mustard, and balsamic vinegar. You can use it as a marinade for meats, fish, or chicken, or as a dressing on salad or fresh vegetables.

Steven Lynch, the owner of the family-owned Montebello Kitchens, recommended that I use the marinade on either lamb chops or salmon. Generally I find that simple grilled salmon with just a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper is hard to beat. But this marinade added a whole new flavor dimension to salmon. I just brushed it over the salmon and let it stand about 10 minutes before broiling. I think I'm in love! Can't wait to try it on lamb chops. I'll keep you posted.