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Herbs & Spice Series: Lesson Two; Ravishing Rosemary with pork tenderloin recipe

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This week we are moving on to Herb Lesson Two: Ravishing Rosemary, a Mediterranean herb that has been used for thousands of years for culinary, medicinal and aromatic purposes. The scent is warm, spicy and fragrant, perhaps slightly woodsy.

Resembling a pine tree, Rosemary sprigs are covered with needle-like leaves that are easy to push off the stalk, much like you push veggies off a kabob. (Hold rosemary with leaves pointing upward and pinch the top with your finger and thumb, running it down the stalk to remove the leaves.)

In the culinary world, rosemary is highly regarded because of its versatility in food types it pairs with smoothly, including meats, vegetables, desserts and drinks. It's also easy to grow, dry and use, and is very good as a dried herb, as well.

Rosemary has a superpower too, it's full of antioxidants which, when meat is marinated and cooked in it, helps prevent the meat from spoiling and may even make it more healthy for us. Now, that's a good reason to put rosemary on your herb list, right?

First, a couple tips on using fresh rosemary:

  • If you purchase or cut fresh rosemary and won't be using it right away, wrap it in a damp paper towel and store it in the fridge. Always wait to wash it right before you use it, to keep it from getting mushy. It should keep from 3 to 5 days.

  • You can pull the needles off and use them whole, or chop them. You can also chop the stems finely. Or, if it's a very tender stem, chop it all at once.

If you are new to using herbs, you are probably a bit skittish, as was I, so try some very simple rosemary tricks first, then venture out a bit. One step, or herb, at a time.

  • When cooking fish, put a sprig on top of the fish before putting it in the oven (this works great when wrapping fish and lemon slices in aluminum foil, simply place the sprig on top of the lemon.) Remove the sprig before serving.

  • Place a sprig of rosemary in your cocktail or lemonade, or even just in your ice water. You can also freeze the needle-like leaves in water or other liquid in ice cube trays to put in drinks.

  • Sprinkle a few chopped rosemary leaves on bread or biscuit dough before baking. It's especially good on flatbreads.

  • Put a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary inside your roast chicken, along with a lemon and clove of garlic before putting in oven. The flavor is incredible.

When you are ready to move on to dried rosemary, as always, I recommend McCormick's dried rosemary. I find it to be stronger, fresher and truer to the taste of fresh than other brands. Try these simple uses for dried rosemary:

Make a poultry rub with one tablespoon each, McCormick's rosemary, black pepper, sage and garlic powder. Add a tablespoon seasalt. When it's time to prep your chicken, add the mixture to a couple tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and rub it, massage it thoroughly, into the inside and outside of your chicken. Let it sit in the fridge overnight or at least two hours then let it come to room temp before putting in a very hot oven, breast side down. 30 minutes before it's done, turn the chicken to brown the breast.

  • Add rosemary to water as you boil potatoes or pasta, for added flavor.

  • Add one teaspoon dried rosemary to potatoes right before mashing.

  • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon rosemary to eggs before scrambling or in an omelet.

  • Add a sprinkle of rosemary to yogurt, pudding or ice cream, for a gourmet touch.

So, you are armed with some rosemary knowledge now and some quick ways to use it. Ready for a recipe? Try your hand with this easy peasy pork tenderloin recipe:

Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin:

Ingredients:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 pork tenderloins about 1 pound each
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (if you don't have thyme and basil yet, simply use 1 tablespoon rosemary instead)

Directions:

  1. Spray roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place tenderloins on pan.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl. Massage thoroughly into the pork tenderloins. You can put in the refrigerator for a couple hours at this point, but make sure to bring it to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Put the roast in a well preheated 425 degree oven. Roast for about 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 375 degrees F and continue to cook another 15 minutes or so until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. Let the roast sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will keep cooking while it rests and the juices will redistribute for a juicier roast.
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