Use your rosemary!

Got a pot of rosemary growing? Sure, it’s beautiful. It’s really useful too! One of my favorite ways to use it is with roasted vegetables. Choose whatever root vegetables you like. Potatoes are wonderful of course, as are carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and rutabagas. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and squash also roast well.

Chop up whatever you like and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Above, I’ve used carrots, red potatoes, and butternut squash. Add 2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary and drizzle the whole thing with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything with your (washed) hands to distribute the oil. Roast in a 400-degree oven. Give the vegetables a stir after 15 minutes or so. Continue roasting until the vegetables are just soft on the inside and nicely browned on the outside, as pictured on the right, above. Generally this takes about 45 minutes. Discard the rosemary before serving.

Feeling festive? The following rosemary-infused cocktail is simple yet delicious. Perfect for winter!

  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary simple syrup
  • 4 oz. prosecco

Chill all ingredients then pour in the order listed into a champagne flute or white wine glass. Give it a quick stir to combine and enjoy!

Rosemary simple syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Combine sugar, water, and rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Turn heat off and let syrup cool in the pot. Strain the syrup to remove rosemary sprigs and any leaves that might have fallen off. Keeps for months covered and refrigerated.

An herb on my windowsill

I’m enjoying a pot of rosemary on my windowsill this winter. It’s an aromatic herb that is wonderful to use in the kitchen. Running my hand over the foliage to release itrosemary-in-a-pot-4s pungent fragrance lifts my spirits on a winter day.

Full disclosure: I have killed my share of rosemary plants since they are not hardy below 20 degrees F and need extra care for wintering indoors. And unless you live in a climate where they flourish outdoors, or you can overwinter yours in a greenhouse (lucky you), don’t expect rosemary to be long lived. But don’t let all this deter you. Rosemary plants are readily available in garden centers and I am here to share some tips for keeping yours happy for at least several years.

Rosemary hails from the Mediterranean where it thrives in sun, sandy soil, and a temperate climate. It naturally grows as a small woody shrub.

You can find rosemary plants in spring at garden centers. Many greenhouses offer rosemary plants and topiaries during the holidays too as festive, alternative evergreens. I bought the one pictured here at Chapons in Pittsburgh during the holidays. I have another one I planted in the ground outdoors in the spring. It has done so well in the full sun and well-draining soil there that I am attempting to overwinter it; I wrapped it in burlap. Fingers crossed.

Two keys for keeping rosemary happy are well-draining soil and humidity. Summer is easy—just place your pot of rosemary outdoors in the sun and pretty much forget it except during the hottest, driest days, when it appreciates watering. When fall approaches and the days start to shorten, bring your rosemary pot indoors. It’s best to bring it in before you turn on your furnace. Set the pot in a cool, sunny window that faces south or west. To provide the humid conditions that rosemary loves, place a tray of pebbles under the pot and fill it with water. Misting the plant a few times a week is also a good idea. Water about once a week, but less often if the soil stays moist.