The aromatic, resinous, slightly bitter flavor of rosemary is reminiscent of pine and eucalyptus. A symbol of love, its fragrant branches used to be incorporated in weddings.
Rosemary as an Herb
Rosemary is something of a lone wolf, as its intensely resinous and bitter flavor does not go with many other herbs and spices. Combining rosemary with garlic, lemon zest, thyme or sea salt brings out the full flavor of its leaves. The pine-like flavor of rosemary also pairs perfectly with pine nuts, olive oil and red wine. For a long time, rosemary was regarded as a symbol of love. In Greek mythology, the plant is associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. A bridal wreath woven from sprigs of rosemary at weddings was thought to represent the couple’s love and loyalty.
The fresh and dried leaves of rosemary are used as a spice. They do not disintegrate when exposed to high heats or when cooked for a long time, making them perfect for use in grilled dishes and stews. The aroma of fresh rosemary is similar to pine and has a subtle hint of juniper. Dried rosemary, on the other hand, has a wonderfully bitter, resinous flavor. Its slightly bitter flavor is perfect for rounding out the flavor of sauces and ragouts, and there are hardly any other herbs or spices that are better suited to grilling. Rosemary is also excellent with fish, seafood, lamb and game.
To give grilled food a smoky, rosemary flavor, add the leaves directly to the embers. The food will absorb a wonderful hint of the resinous aroma without the flavor being too dominant.
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Rosemary comes from the Mediterranean region and is a staple part of Italian and southern French cuisine. The needle-shaped leaves on the evergreen shrub became hugely popular long ago — rosemary was even used in Northern Europe in the Middle Ages, despite its poor resistance to frost. Today, the shrub is also grown in England, the USA and Mexico. Part of the mint family, rosemary is related to sage, thyme, basil, mint, marjoram and oregano. Its Latin name rosmarinus means “dew of the sea”, which probably refers to its origins on the Mediterranean coast.
- Scientific Name
- Rosmarinus officinalis
- Mint family (Lamiaceae)
- Other Names
- Compass weed, compass plant, polar plant, dew of the sea
- Mediterranean region