Have you met Rosemary?

2.27.17 – For February’s Produce of the Month, we’re featuring a humble herb that grows all over Southern California and goes into all sorts of different kitchen creations.

Here at Food Forward, we love profiling ingredients that do the heavy lifting as the main flavors in hearty meals. Sometimes, however, the most important part of a delicious, local dish is the seasonings. This month, we’re featuring an herb that grows easily in our Southern California climate and can be thrown into pretty much anything: rosemary!

Picture of Rosemary

Rosemary (scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis) has wood-like stems and needle-like leaves and grows in areas big or small. In suitable climates (like ours), rosemary can grow to hedge size, or even larger. It likes full sun and well-drained soil and is a member of the mint family. This aromatic plant has been cultivated for medicinal purposes in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. You’ll recognize it by its fragrance when you rub your fingers against it. Have you seen it growing in your neighborhood? Next time you’re out for a walk, take a look, you may be surprised at how ubiquitous this plant is.

How to Grow Rosemary

As a native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary thrives here. It is great to grow at home because it does well in pots and is not very finicky — just make sure it’s in soil that can drain. Growth may be slower in the first year, but your patience will be rewarded in the second year. Trim your rosemary plant regularly to encourage new stems and leaves.

Culinary Uses for Rosemary

If you have rosemary growing at home (or at a friendly neighbor’s house), cut sprigs of it at any time and put it in your favorite dishes. It can also be dried for later use by hanging it upside down.

One of the simplest things you can do with rosemary (if you’re new to using it) is create a delicious dipping oil. Take a few sprigs and store them in olive oil, mix with some salt, pepper, and garlic, and break out a loaf of whole-grain bread when you’re ready to enjoy. Get fancy by heating the oil with the rosemary in it, and then cooling it back down.

Once you have some familiarity with this herb, try using it as a rub on meat before cooking it. Rosemary pairs especially well with chicken, pork, and lamb.

Making roasted potatoes or veggies? Sprinkle rosemary on top and get ready for a delicious pop of flavor.

Once you’ve really gotten the hang of using rosemary in your daily cooking, try it in baking. There are quite a few baked goods made with this herb such as: Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, Rosemary Apricot Bars, and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Now that you see how versatile this plant is, honor it this month by showing it off in your cooking!

A collection of herbs

Can you guess which herb is playing a supporting role – pictured here on stage left – at our Spring Melt Craft Table?




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