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:
Are you a fan of rosemary? Got a favorite recipe to share? I would love to hear!