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29 things to do with rosemary

Rosemary is the hardiest of herbs, holding up to long cooking times. To use Gen Z speak, rosemary is a whole vibe

Rosemary gin (left) and rosemary potatoes. (Photos by Nandita Iyer)
Rosemary gin (left) and rosemary potatoes. (Photos by Nandita Iyer)

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The aroma of rosemary reminds me of dense forests, mossy barks, and woodsy essential oils in the diffuser. If I were to use Gen Z speak, rosemary is a whole vibe.

It is a hard-to-kill plant. Its perennial nature means that rosemary continues to grow for years with minimum effort on your part. Someone from Europe recently posted a photograph of his 15-year-old rosemary bush on Reddit. It is 5.6ft tall and 2m wide. One of the many comments on this post reads, “I just want to lay in it every morning before work.” Hard relate.

Before I tell you what to do with rosemary, here are two must-knows about this herb.

To separate the pine-needle like leaves from the stem, hold the top of each sprig, and, with the other hand, strip the leaves downwards. This is a satisfying activity.

Rosemary has much less moisture content than other herbs. This is why the dried version is almost as flavour-packed as the fresh one, retaining its flavour for nearly six months. A handy thing to remember is that one teaspoon of dried rosemary is equal to one tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary.

Here are 29 things to do with rosemary

1. Rosemary and potatoes are a match made in food heaven. Be it a dusting of rosemary powder on fries or chopped rosemary in oven-roasted potato wedges, it is just the thing to take basic potatoes to gourmet level.

2. It pairs well with meats like lamb and chicken, be it in a lamb stew or a grilled chicken.

3. Rosemary is the hardiest of herbs, holding up to long cooking times. That’s why it is used in braises and stews, added right at the start of cooking.

4. People either love or hate its pairing with steak; it’s as polarising as pineapple on pizza. I love that sprigs of rosemary are used as a brush to apply melted butter while grilling steak (as seen in food videos, given that I don’t cook meat myself).

5. Rosemary and olives both grow abundantly in the Mediterranean, so it’s no surprise that this combination works beautifully in sourdough breads. And focaccia.

6. Salty, umami-rich Parmesan and rosemary are perfect flavour partners in savoury crackers.

7. How about swapping cinnamon with rosemary the next time you make apple cake, pie or crumble?

8. A hearty herb for hearty roasted root vegetables. Toss chunks of sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and spuds in rosemary, olive oil, chilli flakes and salt. Roast away until golden.

9. Make oomph-y cheese spreads for your next cheese platter. Mix homemade cream cheese or hung yogurt with extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped fresh rosemary, black pepper and salt. Serve with nuts, crackers and grapes.

10. Rosemary makes cocktails sexy. Use a rosemary-infused simple syrup or muddled rosemary or add a few sprigs to a bottle of vodka or rum to get infused spirits and use these in cocktails.

11. Lightly burn a sprig of rosemary. Keep it on a fireproof dish and cover it with a glass. Let the rosemary smoke fill up the glass. Pour your cocktail into this glass and garnish with another smoking sprig.

12. Rosemary shortbread, a New York Times recipe, is an apt finale to a fancy dinner. Look it up.

13. Infuse bottles of olive oil with rosemary and garlic. It tastes great with breads and on pastas.

14. Make rosemary salt by mixing 1 part chopped rosemary for 3 parts sea salt. Let it sit for one-two weeks before using it.

15. The only thing better than butter is rosemary butter. Add 1 tbsp chopped rosemary to 4 tbsp soft butter. Mix well and freeze.

16. Add it to home-made jams, especially ones with stone fruit like apricot or peach.

17. Infuse water with rosemary sprigs and slices of apple or pear. It looks pretty too.

18. Mix water, sugar, whey from home-made yogurt (or any other starter like kombucha), rosemary sprigs and stone fruit pits. Ferment in jars for two-three days to make your own zero waste whey soda.

19. Use the stems as skewers for kebabs or vegetables.

20. Make Ina Garten’s rosemary roasted cashews. Toast cashews in the oven for around 10 minutes. Mix finely chopped fresh rosemary, chilli powder, brown sugar, salt and melted butter. Toss the cashews in this mixture and serve warm.

21. Sprinkle finely chopped fresh rosemary on fried eggs with salt and pepper. Chef’s kiss.

22. Tie it in small bunches and hang it like a bunting in your kitchen for beautiful country cottage feels.

23. Simmer rosemary and citrus peels in a pot of water to make your home smell delicious.

24. Tie up a big bunch of rosemary and hang it from your shower. Hot water passing through this herb bouquet will make your shower cubicle smell like a spa.

25. Stuff cotton pouches or small cotton bags with raw rice and plenty of sprigs of rosemary. Stitch the open end to seal the bag. Microwave it to use as a fragrant heating pad to deal with aches and pains.

26. Keep some rosemary sprigs in a vase, either on the dining table or on your bedside.

27. Simmer in water and use this tea as a hair rinse. Rosemary has proven hair- growth properties. Or infuse it in your hair oil.

28. Make a rosemary and clove tea and use it as an all-natural mouth rinse.

29. Mix lots of chopped rosemary, orange zest, sugar and olive oil to get a scrumptious body scrub.

Double Tested is a fortnightly column on vegetarian cooking, highlighting a single ingredient prepared two ways. Nandita Iyer is the author of the newly released book This Handmade Life—7 Skills To Enhance And Transform Your Everyday Life. @saffrontrail

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