Know your herbs: Rosemary

Hello fellow chefs! This is our first post on natural ingredients for our home cooking and today we are going to talk about the beautiful, evergreen, fragrant rosemary.

It’s incredible how many artificial ingredients and food additives (both flavorings and colorings) are present in our food today. We sometimes make it even worse by using unnecessary seasonings and sauces in our recipes, so that we cannot even discern anymore what it is that we are actually eating.

But that barbeque sauce tastes soooo good! I know, I love it. You could pour it on pretty much anything and it would taste like grilled rib-eye steak. Even if you are having a salad.

Know the feeling?

We need to get back to the basics.

Natural ingredients don’t cover the flavor of foods. Instead, they enhance it.

Rosemary is one of the most widely used herbs and it’s really easy to grow at home. You don’t need a garden or a backyard. That in the picture is the rosemary growing on my windowsill, in the middle of a concrete jungle and against all odds (yes, I always forget to water the plants…). But rosemary is extremely resistant compared to other homegrown herbs, all year round, even under a snow storm. And by the way, it’s really beautiful… can you picture a blossomed rosemary bush in spring, with its marvelous light blue flowers? Makes me feel poetic already.

You will probably be surprised to know that rosemary has been widely used in the Mediterranean region since ancient times, both for culinary and medical uses, and most recently also as a cosmetics ingredient (I used to have a great rosemary shampoo). Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, minerals (iron, calcium), vitamins (A, B and C). Great for your immune system, blood circulation, memory and a bunch of other things.

Alright. Nuff with the theory, let’s get down to cooking shall we?

Rosemary is well know in Italian, French and Spanish cuisines. It’s pine-like fragrance and woody bittersweet flavor make it a perfect complement for a wide variety of foods: strong tasting meats like lamb, boar and pork, but also milder fish courses, especially baked white fish like sea bass or sea bream. Pairs beautifully with garlic and lemon for a marinade. But rosemary is also great on pizzas, focaccias and roasted potatoes. In French cuisine it’s commonly used with sage, thyme and oregano to enhance the flavor of most vegetables. It’s great even with just toasted bread and some olive oil…

Bruschetta anyone???

Imagination is your only limit. Just remember to use it sparingly because the flavor can be quite strong.

Harvest the rosemary sprigs just before use, if at all possible, rinse them under running cold water, pull the leaves off the stem with your fingers and chop it. We suggest you always use fresh rosemary, it will keep in the fridge for several days. Dried rosemary is a totally different ball game.

Looking good chopped with a little sage…

Some recipes call for the whole sprig: this is especially the case with stews, roasted meat and fish recipes, where rosemary should be discarded just before serving. Whole rosemary sprigs can also be used to brush the cooked meat with its juices: just reserve the juices (or some extra virgin olive oil) in a small serving bowl and let your guests dip the sprigs into the bowl… excellent presentation. And by the way, do you know you can use whole rosemary sprigs to make flavored olive oil?

If you are running out of ideas, don’t worry! Just check out a few of our recipes

Enjoy rosemary and happy cooking!