Rosemary leaves have a bitter, astringent taste and are highly aromatic, which complements a wide variety of foods. The savory, almost minty quality of rosemary makes it ideal for pork and chicken.
The word rosemary translates into "dew of the sea." A garland of fragrant rosemary was said to be draped around Aphrodite, the goddess of love, when she rose from the sea. Rosemary has a history of being associated with remembrance during weddings, war commemorations and funerals. In medieval times, rosemary was used in making love charms, and was used as a "witch repellent."
Rosemary appears frequently in French, Spanish and Italian cooking. Rosemary blends well in tomato sauces, soups or stews, or focaccia bread. Use rosemary with beans, chicken, fish, game, grains, lamb, mushrooms, onions, oranges, peas, pork, potatoes, poultry, salmon, spinach, steaks, and veal.
Rosemary is an essential ingredient when cooking leg of lamb. Crumble whole rosemary, garlic, and cracked pepper and salt onto chicken or fish just before poaching, baking or grilling. Include powdered rosemary in your homemade Italian tomato sauce, or sprinkle whole rosemary onto breadsticks or focaccia dough. Used sparingly, rosemary is tasty added to wine punch or apple jelly.
Powdered rosemary is useful for sauces and dishes that require a smooth texture. Rosemary powder is easy to use, but does not stay fresh as long as whole or cracked rosemary. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Whole rosemary leaves are the size and shape of Christmas tree needles. Crack or crumble whole rosemary to release the full, fresh aroma and flavor of the herb.