Stories conflict concerning the traditional use of dill weed. Legend claims that the Norse used a concoction of dill to soothe infants into slumber, while Romans gave it to gladiators as a stimulant. Dill seeds give dill pickles their strong unique taste, but the feathery leaves of the plant have a milder flavor. Dill leaves find their way into recipes for chowders, dips, yogurts and salads.
Snip off the feathery leaves with kitchen shears before seed heads form on the dill plant. Cut the leaves close to the stem. Run leaves under fresh water or plunge into a bowl of cool water to wash away dirt and debris.
Pat the dill leaves dry with a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel and place on a cutting board. Use a chef's knife to separate the soft, feathery sections of dill leaves and stems from the thick, woody stems. Discard the thick, woody stems.
Lay the dill on the cutting board. Chop the dill using fine slices approximately 1/8 inch apart. Hold the knife at a slight angle to maximize the release of flavor and fragrance.