Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs – its clean, spiky scent pervading my kitchen takes me to the South of France on a warm summer’s day. It is the hardiest plant in my herb garden, surviving our driest summers and putting out new growth as soon as the winter rains begin. You can pick from it all year round and it has useful medicinal properties too.
I love Roast Lamb with generous amounts of rosemary and garlic tucked underneath as it cooks or else I take Nigella Lawson’s advice and mince the garlic and rosemary to a paste with some olive oil and tuck it into small incisions in the meat before cooking. After that the meat just cooks itself (as long as you remember to switch on the oven for it!) and you have a marvellous Sunday lunch for very little effort. A dash of red wine added to the juices from the roasting dish and warmed through gives you a ‘jus’ that any five star restaurant would be proud to own – do spoon off the excess fat first though. For a totally low effort lunch serve the roast lamb with a generous green salad and boiled new potatoes, or expend the effort you’ve saved with the meat on producing loads of crispy roast potatoes, baked butternut squash and tender green peas.
The following pasta sauce recipe came from experimenting with a recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Marcella’s Kitchen. To her tomato and rosemary pasta sauce I added some tuna to create a nutritious and delicious meal for my kids – the balsamic vinegar gives a mellow, rounded note to the sauce and is not in the least overpowering as I thought it might be.
Penne with Tuna, Tomato, Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar
For 450g/1lb pasta
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
450g/1lb tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tin of tuna drained
Put the olive oil, thinly sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the garlic starts sizzling add the tomatoes, with salt and pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes.
When the pasta is just cooked – really al dente – drain and put back in the pan and toss with the sauce over the heat for 1 minute. Add the tuna, stir, then off the heat stir in the balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.
There is a wonderful recipe for a Rosemary Cake in Nigella Lawson’s book ‘Feast’. She allocates it to her Funeral Feast section. as rosemary has always been the herb of rememberance, but this cake is great for any occasion when a light, not too sweet, plain sponge is required. It has apple in it too and the combination of that and the rosemary, gives a moist but aromatic cake. A long sprig of rosemary adorns the top of the cake and as it cooks releases more aromatic oils into the cake. Try it.
To make use of rosemary’s health boosting properties try a cup of rosemary herbal tea. One sprig with a cup of boiling water poured over it and left to stand for five to ten minutes, makes a revitalising and stress-relieving tea. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and aids circulation, helps with stress, anxiety and depression and improves memory and concentration. It also is a useful source of easily absorbed calcium, far more effective than taking pills.