Rosemary-Its Flavor Makes It Indispensable for Every Kitchen
In my herb garden I have rosemary, basil and oregano growing. I love the wonderful flavor herbs add to foods. One of my favorite is rosemary. Its shape resembles a small sprig from an evergreen tree. Its flavor makes it an indispensable herb for every kitchen.
As an added bonus, it is an evergreen and available year round. You likely see it growing in landscapes. Rosemary grows on a small evergreen shrub belonging to the Labiatae family that is related to mint. Its leaves look like flat pine-tree needles, deep green in color on top while silver-white on their underside.
Rosemary is a staple of Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, and flavors soups, breads, and meats with a distinctive flavor unmatched by any other herb. It is a native of the Mediterranean region and has a stronger flavor when fresh than when dried. Cut sprigs anytime for fresh use.
It is often associated with good food, but it could also be associated with good health. Rosemary is thought to contain substances useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. It also may contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, it has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.
Fresh rosemary can be purchased at the farmers market and grocery store. Whenever possible, choose fresh rosemary over dried since it is much better in flavor. The springs of fresh rosemary should look vibrantly fresh and should be deep sage green in color, and free from yellow or dark spots.
Store in the refrigerator either in its original packaging or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Another option is to freeze the rosemary sprigs in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried rosemary should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
To use fresh rosemary, quickly rinse under cool running water and pat dry.
Most recipes call for rosemary leaves, which can be easily removed from the stem. You can also add the whole sprig to season soups, stews and meat dishes, and then simply remove it before serving.
The culinary uses for rosemary are endless; add fresh rosemary to omelets and frittatas; when roasting chicken; work into dough; add to soups and tomato sauces; toss late summer stems onto grilling coals to infuse meat with delicious flavor; toss it with fresh vegetables then grill or use the rosemary sprig as a skewer for grilling fresh vegetables and meat.
How to prepare rosemary
It’s best to finely chop leaves before adding them to dishes, herb blends, or sauces to release aromatic oils and to make them easier to chew. Rosemary texture and flavor varies throughout the season. In the spring the leaves are tender, with fewer aromatic oils. By late summer when the heat hits, foliage packs a more potent flavor.
This is flavorful bread is easy to make and leaves an aromatic smell in your kitchen.
Olive and Rosemary Focaccia
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons dried yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 20 pitted Kalamata olives
- Combine water, yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl.
- Set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 5 minutes or until frothy.
- Place flour and half of the salt in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture.
- Use a spoon to stir until combined, and then use clean hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Brush a bowl with oil to grease.
- Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.
- Set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush a baking sheet with 2 teaspoons of remaining oil.
- Punch down center of the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes or until dough is elastic and has returned to original size.
- Place dough on oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle.
- Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to proof for 20 minutes or until doubled in height.
- Use your finger to press dimples into the dough.
- Brush with remaining oil and sprinkle over rosemary and remaining salt. Press the olives into the dough.
- Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and focaccia sounds hollow when tapped on base. Serve warm or at room temperature.