Rosemary is a member of the mint family, it’s name from the Latin means “dew of the sea,” because of its light blue flowers and because it grows well in damp places.
Rosemary is used very frequently in Mediterranean cooking, providing flavor. It can also act as a natural preservative. Another benefit — rosemary has antioxidant effects, so may reduce inflammation. some research has shown that rosemary improves brain function and reduces anxiety when used in aromatherapy.
Good news — we don’t need an excuse like improved brain function to eat it regularly. Fresh rosemary adds a bang to anything it’s in; dried rosemary adds a more subtle full flavor. Perfect in rubs and marinades (especially with lamb and pork), with roasted vegetables, or sprinkled over soups. If you’re feeling adventurous, fold fresh rosemary into whipped cream and it becomes the perfect topping for a refreshing brunch stack of French toast.
Rosemary grows quickly and without much work (think WILD) in the Pacific Northwest. In a sunny spot it can grow up six feet tall. It may become a bit of an unruly bush if it isn’t pruned back regularly, so USE IT! If kept in a smaller pot and trimmed fequently, it is a great accent plant for a patio, balcony or front porch.
No what you have the skinny on rosemary, what will yo do with it? On elf my favorites is rosemary salt — because I can us either today, or keep it for a couple of months. I like to add a bit of lemon zest to my salt as well, and a few red pepper flakes. A sprinkle of rosemary salt can elevate a simple plate of grilled spring asparagus into something divine. It can transform a humble piece of white fish to an entirely new level. It makes roasted breakfast potatoes into a gourmet treat. And it promotes a humble roasted green bean into something else entirely. So, how do you do it? Simple!
Carefully wash and dry your herbs. And the only equipment you need is an ordinary food processor, coffee grinder… or a mortar and pestle, if you’re willing to put a little bit of muscle into the process. In a pinch, you can even make the salt with a simple chef’s knife.
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, leaves only, washed & dried well
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
Place rosemary, lemon zest, pepper flakes and a quarter of the salt in a food processor, spice grinder or mortar & pestle. Process until round to your liking, checking the texture frequently. Add in the remaining salt and process just to combine. Spread the mixture on a plate, cutting board or sheet pan to dry for a day or so, then package in your container!
I like to use a coarse-grained sea salt — which has a more well-rounded flavor than table salt, because of the trace minerals, including iron, sulfur, and magnesium.
You can make your rosemary salt as needed, but even the freshly ground salt keeps for a few days if stored in an airtight jar. That said, you may also prepare herbal salt for extended storage by drying it on the cutting board or an a plate for a day o fro before packaging it into an airtight container.
Get inspired, make large batches of dried herbal salt, pack them in attractive bottles, tie them with a bit of ribbon, and give them as gifts. Pair a few bottles of herbal salt with a jar of mixed peppercorns or a selection of recipes using herbal salts.
- 10 inches fresh rosemary, cut into chunks
- 2 cups olive oil
Bring all ingredients to 220°-250°F for 20 minutes. Let cool; strain and bottle.
Drizzle over lamb or pork chops, or on white bean soup.
What else to do with your rosemary? Here is an easy appetizer or entree for spring, when mussels are at their peak. This is a recipe I developed to match and serve with Brian Carter Cellars Oriana, a white blend. Enjoy!
grilled mussels with spicy rosemary butter
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and cleaned, debearded if necessary
- lemon juice
- freshly minced parsley
- garlic toast
Preheat grill to high heat. Arrange mussels on a grill tray, place over heat. Cover and grill 3 to 5 minutes, until shells open, about 6-8 minutes. Discard any unopened shells. Squeeze lemon over, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with spicy rosemary butter and garlic toast.
spicy rosemary butter
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
- finishing salt, to taste
In food processor or medium bowl, whisk butter; add remaining ingredients. Serve alongside grilled mussels. Makes about 1/3 cup butter.