Rosemary — A great addition to your food

Rosemary’s memorable flavor and unique health benefits make it an indispensable herb for every kitchen.

Rosemary’s memorable flavor and unique health benefits make it an indispensable herb for every kitchen.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

Rosemary grows on a small evergreen shrub belonging to the Labiatae family, and is related to mint. The tops of its leaves look like flat, deep green pine-tree needles, while they are silver-white on their underside. Rosemary’s memorable flavor and unique health benefits make it an indispensable herb for every kitchen.

Rosemary often is associated with good food and great times, but it is also related to good health. Rosemary contains substances that stimulate the immune system, increase circulation and improve digestion. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.

Whenever possible, choose fresh rosemary over the dried form of the herb, as it is far superior in flavor. Your sprigs of fresh rosemary should look vibrantly fresh, deep sage green, and free from yellow or dark spots.

Store it in the refrigerator either in its original packaging or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. You can also place the rosemary sprigs in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added to soups or stews during preparation. Dried rosemary should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place where it will keep fresh for about six months.

When ready to use, quickly rinse rosemary under cool running water and pat dry. Many recipes call for rosemary leaves, which can be easily removed from the stem. Alternatively, you can add the whole sprig to season soups, stews and meat dishes, then simply remove it before serving.

What can you do with a simple sprig of rosemary?

  • Tuck it into roasting chicken, lamb or egg dishes.
  • Pour boiling water over a few needle-like leaves for a stimulating cup of tea.
  • Boil it and strain the aromatic water into a hot bath to relax tired nerves and muscles.
  • Place it between woolens to repel moths.
  • Toss it into the fireplace as a fragrant incense.
  • Tuck it in a letter of condolence “for remembrance.”
  • Purée fresh rosemary leaves with olive oil and use as a dipping sauce for bread.

 

Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 6, December 2005/January 2006.

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