Rosemary has as an appetising, resinous pungency that enhances all types of meat, vegetables and fruits. Singed in charcoal flames to finish off a steak, seared in sizzling butter to serve on top of roasted chicken and pan-fried peaches, chopped with masses of garlic and stewed gently with white beans, or the classic, a leg of lamb studded with tufts of rosemary, it lifts the flavour stakes, scenting the air as well as the food. It can be added at the beginning of cooking if you want the rosemary to fully impart its flavour and fuse with the other ingredients, or at the end if you want the finished dish to smell heady and pungent. Don’t reserve it for savoury dishes: a few sprigs added to poached fruit offers an intriguing spicy hint, and a sprig of rosemary sizzled in butter until crisp served on top of a slice of sticky homemade gingerbread accompanied by poached pears is extraordinarily good. Dried rosemary is nasty: brittle and spiky. Raw rosemary is too strong for most dishes so add it in minuscule amounts, or not at all.
Is it easy enough to grow? So they say. For me, and many others, I believe, it is hit and miss – I’ve had many plants just curl up their toes and die for no apparent reason and others that flourish into succulent bushes. Yes, mmm, I’ve had more ‘dried arrangements’ of rosemary bushes in my garden than any other plant.
Photography by Julie Biuso