From the Herb Garden: Rosemary

Take one look at the imposing needle-like leaves on a rosemary plant, and you might wonder how anyone ever thought to put this herb in their mouths! But crush a few of those needles between your fingers, breathe in their pungent and mouth-watering aroma, and you'll understand. Do you like rosemary?Rosemary is yet another Mediterranean shrub that has made its way into many world cuisines. It's an unusually tall and narrow plant with long woody stems and tough slender leaves. Unlike most other herbs, the flavor and aroma of rosemary is preserved very well when the herb is dried.

It has a piney aroma and a distinctive sharp flavor - its better to taste it for yourself than describe it in words! Rosemary is an incredibly powerful herb and can easily overwhelm a dish if you use too much. It's best to start with the minimum called for in a recipe and work your way up to taste. Also, remember that the rosemary flavor will gain strength the longer a dish cooks, particularly those with a lot of liquid.

The leaves are easily stripped off the stem by running your fingers along the stem from top to bottom in the opposite direction that the leaves grow. The leaves remain quite tough even when cooked, so we usually mince them as finely as possible before adding them to a dish. In the winter, we also use whole stems to infuse rosemary flavor into soups and braises.

Rosemary is fantastic with any grilled meats. It can go into a marinade or get worked into a compound butter to melt over the finished dish. We also love rosemary with roasted potatoes, egg dishes, and bean dishes. Oh, and try adding some chopped rosemary next time you make a loaf of bread or a batch of dinner rolls - it's incredible!

Here are a few rosemary-centric recipes to try!

Orzo Salad with Rosemary, Almonds, and Sundried Tomatoes
Simple Rosemary-Rubbed Pork Chops
Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary
Rosemary Simple Syrup for Bar Drinks

How do you like to use rosemary in your cooking?

Related: Herb Keeper from Crate & Barrel

(Image: Flickr member sleepyneko licensed under Creative Commons)

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