A couple of weeks ago we got some very nice herbs in our CSA box, including a large bunch of rosemary. You can just see a few of the stems in this photograph.
Now I don’t have any problem finding ways to use fresh basil, and I usually manage to use some of the parsley before it goes bad, but I haven’t had a lot of uses for rosemary. Until I got this bunch, that is. Fleshy and fragrant, each of the needles just begged to be nibbled. I had to find ways to use it. Guess what? I found five cool ways to use it.
The instructions that came with our box said to wrap the rosemary in a moist towel inside a plastic bag and refrigerate. So I rinsed it well, wrapped it in a clean dish towel, encased it in a plastic produce bag, dropped it into the refrigerator crisper and promptly forgot about it for a whole week. Meh.
Do you do that? Forget what’s in your refrigerator? So easy to do!
One night, staring at a couple of yams in the pantry, I asked myself that daily question: “What shall I fix for supper?” Oven fries? How could I make oven fries a little new tasting? That’s when I remembered the rosemary and found the first way to use some of it.
1. Yam oven fries
Wouldn’t those yams be good cut in fingers and oven baked with some aromatic rosemary? After slicing up the yams, I tossed them in a teaspoon of organic extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled a pinch of salt, then stripped two long stems of the rosemary and sprinkled those still fresh and lovely needles over all.
Baked those beauties at 400º Fahrenheit (F) for 30 minutes in the little toaster oven, and boy did they smell good. Tasted even better. We didn’t wait to take photographs when they came out of the oven. Sorry about that.
2. UPDATE: Rosemary-herbed olive oil–NOT!
When I wrote this article earlier today (September 22, 2015), I told you I had tossed some sprigs of fresh rosemary in this bottle of oil. I looked forward to tasting it, but my friend and sister blogger, Margaret Schindel, sent me this article from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office: Safe Homemade Flavored and Infused Oils. According to the experts, fresh herbs contain the bacteria that can cause botulism, Clostridium botulinum (C. bot).
Because oil provides an oxygen-free environment, the botulism can multiply and grow. Eating such herb-infused oil could make us very sick, even kill us. I’m discarding this oil and the herb. Please read the linked article and do NOT try this at home!
I’ll find another way to use the herb and add a new number two when I do.
3. Herbed whole wheat sourdough bread
Today was baking day, as well. This morning, when I added the salt to my whole wheat sourdough boule, just before kneading, I added a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary.
Rosemary and a mild sourdough compliment each other beautifully, each bringing out the best of the other. This bread proved extra delicious, especially when we spread it with some of that kale pesto.
In terms of flavor, this loaf is fantastic. We love the extra dimension the rosemary provides. In terms of crumb and texture, it didn’t turn out so well. I’m still learning how to bake a good whole wheat sourdough loaf.
4. Roasted farmer’s market vegetables with rosemary and garlic
Sunday, I scored big at the farmer’s market. Usually, I like to go early, but that day, I made it just 20 minutes before closing. Tomatoes were on sale, and I got some lovelies, big and small. The big ones went into the slow cooker with peppers, basil, onions and garlic and made a brilliant tomato puree we’ll enjoy half a dozen ways.
We ate a lot of the cherry tomatoes out of hand, but I had enough left over today to toss into a roasted vegetable medley with new potatoes, broccolini, yellow bell peppers, onion and, yes, plenty of whole garlic cloves.
Oops! I forgot the onions and garlic! Turned out okay, though. I remembered to add them about halfway through the roasting. The photo below doesn’t do them justice, but we were hungry and ready to eat, so this is what you get.
This dish, with a dollop of fresh yogurt and a few crusts of fresh-baked whole wheat sourdough smeared with kale pesto made a lovely dinner. We topped it all off with the sweetest, thinnest-skinned grapes we’ve been lucky enough to find all summer. Simple fare.
Tender and fresh, the rosemary leaves added flavor without too much of that twig-in-the-mouth you get with some rosemary dishes. Next time I’ll be careful to make sure none of the leaves are the least bit dry, because I’d rather not run across even two twigs. Still, Sweetheart said I could make this dish for dinner twice a week if I wanted to. Wasn’t that nice?
5. Dried Rosemary
With five stems of fragrant leaves left, I racked my brain for something to use them. In the past I’ve frozen rosemary on the stem, but this time I decided to try drying it. First I stripped the stems and chopped the leaves fine.
While I chopped the rosemary, I preheated the oven to 175º F. Then I spread the chopped herbs on a parchment-lined baking sheet, set them in the oven, and turned it off. Four hours later, the rosemary was dry, but when I rubbed it between my fingers, still fragrant.
Using a funnel, I poured the dried herbs into a spice bottle, labeled it, and added it to my collection. They will come in mighty handy in soups and sauces whenever we want the flavor of rosemary and don’t have any fresh on hand.
It didn’t make much, but it’s an experiment. If this works and we get good flavor from it in soups and sauces, I’ll dry an entire bunch next time, so I always have some on hand.
What do you do with bunches of fresh herbs?
How do you use all those herbs when you buy a bunch? Do you have a tip to add for using rosemary? And how about that parsley. My sweetheart doesn’t care for it, so when I need a few tablespoons fresh parsley, all too often I end up composting the rest. I might as well compost green backs!
I’d love to hear your ideas, so please do share them, and if you like any of these, let me know too.