I once read that the great Charlemagne declared: “An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.” I wonder what herbs he had at his disposal during his reign? While I certainly have no claim to fame nor reign, a quick trip to my kitchen shows no less than a multitude of dried herbs and just a few fresh: parsley, cilantro, oregano, sage and my all time aromatic favorite — rosemary, which I almost always have on hand.
This week, I plan to use it in these dishes: Grilled lamb chops with fresh rosemary and olive oil; roast potatoes with garlic and fresh rosemary, white wine and rosemary vinaigrette; and for my dinner guests on Thursday, aromatic rosemary-infused cookies.
In case you aren’t familiar, rosemary is an aromatic, shrubby herb of the mint family native to the Mediterranean region. You can use the leaves, flowering tops and twigs as culinary herbs. In addition to adding flavor to food — especially when cutting back on salt, sugar or fat — rosemary offers additional benefits as a powerful antioxidant.
It’s key chemical components include volatile oils (monoterpenes), flavonoids, diterpenoids (carnosol, rosmanol, rosmadial), and rosmarinic acid. Scientists in the UK are currently studying ways to develop a range of antioxidants from the active natural ingredients present in rosemary, with the goal of replacing synthetic antioxidants currently used in a variety of commercial products. Additionally, rosemary is also known to soothe the gastrointestinal tract.
Look for fresh green rosemary with no signs of mold or dark, woody spots on the leaves. Store in a plastic (preferably perforated) bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days. Be sure to wash rosemary under running water when ready to use. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel or dry it in a salad spinner. Use the leaves and discard the tough stems unless using the whole herb in your recipe. Mince the leaves for greater depth of flavor.
As a general guide, use three times as much fresh as dried rosemary, and for a simmering recipe such as slow-cooked bean soup or long-simmered stew, add it to the pot about ½ hour before the recipe is done, unless otherwise specified in your recipe.
Remember that rosemary is awesome when paired with chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, pork, tempeh, potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash, soups and stews. Here are plenty of good ideas:
Easter is a favorite time for pairing rosemary with lamb. Here are a couple of great recipes: Rosemary & Lamb Stir Fry with Apricot Couscous and Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic.
Here’s a recipe I adore: Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.
Add rosemary as a seasoning to roasted almonds, pecans or walnuts. Try our recipe for Toasted Walnuts with Rosemary and Sage.
When peaches are in season, try this one: Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary.
Combine minced rosemary with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper for a wonderful marinade for chicken or turkey.
Add it to your favorite marinade for fish or shellfish. Try this Rosemary-Lime Wild Alaska Salmon Kabobs recipe for an unforgettable treat.
Try substituting fresh herbs for the dried in these Herb Roasted Sweet Potato Skins.
Mix ½ cup softened butter with ½ cup extra virgin olive oil. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh minced rosemary; transfer to a container with a lid. Refrigerate until solid. Use a teaspoon of this mixture to flavor a bowl of soup or stew, a savory corn muffin, or a scrambled egg.
Making a batch of sugar cookies? Try a teaspoon or two of minced rosemary added to the batter.
Stir minced rosemary into pizza or pasta sauce.
Add it to oil for a delicate infusion, like in this Rosemary Olive Oil.
For a seasonal treat, brush olive oil on the inside of fresh cleaned sardines from our seafood department; season with salt and pepper. Place a sprig of fresh rosemary in the center and grill to perfection.
Make a sweet naval orange and red onion salad with a light vinaigrette and fresh minced rosemary.
Soak rosemary sprigs in water. Place on a grill. Top with halved peaches or apricots and grill for a great summer treat.
Love to bake fresh bread? Try a spoonful of rosemary in your next loaf.
Bake savory crackers. Here’s a delicious Three-Seed Cracker recipe.
Add to savory (or sweet) muffins and quick breads. Here’s an idea for Spinach, Garlic and Rosemary Griddlecakes.
Are you a fan of rosemary? Got a favorite recipe to share? I would love to hear!