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Other Names: Alecrim (Portuguese); biberiye, hasalban, or kuşdili (Turkish); dentrolivano or rozmari (Greek); ecensier or romarin (French); eklil kuhi or rozmari (Farsi); iklil al-jabal (Arabic); mi tieh hsiang (Chinese); old man (British); ramerino or rosmarino (Italian); romero or rosmario (Spanish); rosmarin (German); roumanieou (Provençal French); rozmarin (Romanian, Russian, Hebrew, Bulgarian).

General Description: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has spicy, pungent, rather tough leaves that resemble pine needles in both appearance and aroma. Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary is cultivated in nearly all countries around the Mediterranean, as well as England, the United States, and Mexico. Bold though its needles may be, rosemary’s lovely blue flowers are sweetly perfumed and delicious sprinkled on salads, rice, or pasta. The blossoms yield a particularly fragrant honey preferred in Spain for making the honey nougat called turrón. The use of rosemary is most common in the kitchens of Italy and France. In Greece and some other countries where rosemary grows in abundance, it’s not considered suitable for culinary use. Astringent, piney rosemary complements fatty, strong-tasting meats such as lamb, pork, duck, and game. It matches well with garlic and red wine and is especially good for roasted or grilled meat. Trailing rosemary is hardy and winding.

Season: In late spring, the early part of its season, rosemary will be more tender; by late summer it’s more resinous, potent, and tough, so use less and chop finely.

Purchase and Avoid: Fresh rosemary is always preferable and is widely available throughout the year.


  • Dried rosemary leaves are sharp and pointy, so either chop finely or strain out before serving.

Note: Rosemary is very pronounced, so use it with care, as too much can make a dish taste medicinal. Use dried rosemary in careful doses and fresh rosemary more freely.

Serving Suggestions: Use rosemary sprigs to brush olive oil on meat and poultry when grilling, and sprinkle rosemary stalks on the charcoal for extra flavor. Season diced potatoes with rosemary, salt, and pepper and bake. Stuff chicken with rosemary sprigs, a quartered lemon, and a handful of garlic cloves when roasting. Simmer rosemary in cream, strain, add lemon juice and lemon zest, and serve as a sauce for roasted fish or chicken.

Food Affinities: Beef, beet, chestnuts, chicken, duck, eggplant, garlic, lamb, lemon, olive oil, onion, orange, pork, potato, rabbit, red wine, tomato, turnip, white beans, zucchini.

from Quirk Books: