One of the few frustrations I have about my life on the Mediterranean is that I can’t keep a decent rosemary plant thriving in my garden. In this region, where rosemary can be considered more shrubbery than herb, I have to coax my leggy plants along and then just rip them out and plant new ones at intervals. I know that they don’t like our shady garden, and I’ve come to terms that I’m not going to have the aromatic, woody plants I have on Lummi Island, where the soil is well-drained and the sun is abundant (when it shines).
We had one of those winter weekends spent dreaming about the upcoming growing season. Our winter garden, here, all greens and kale, has been giving diminishing returns, so we replanted most of it with more greens, chard and bok choy, but now, some pole beans and onion sets. Being unseasonably warm in the Pacific Northwest, Gabe tilled his vegetable garden, enlarging it from last year. He picked out his seeds from Seed Saver’s Exchange, where they now offer a service of a digital layout for how you should plant your garden if you give them your dimensions and seed choices. We have an investment in this garden, too, as it will be coming on at about the time we get home next summer. We are looking forward to, at least, several weeks of produce, plucked straight out of the ground.
At our farmers’ market this morning, in what I call the mirepoix row: all carrots, celery, onions, and parsley as far as you can see, a farmer had massive bundles of rosemary for about 50 cents each. I am reading through The French Laundry Cookbook, circa 1999, this weekend, so I went to Thomas Keller’s method for making rosemary oil. This batch of oil will be drizzled over roasting vegetables, cherry tomatoes with garlic and thinly sliced new potatoes, that we will have with some crisp skinned mullet filets.
- 1 cup rosemary leaves
- 2 cups Italian parsley sprigs
- 1 cup olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, using 1/2 cup of kosher salt to 2 quarts of water. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. When the water is at a strong boil, dip the rosemary into the water for 30 seconds, then add the parsley and continue to blanch for another 10 seconds. Remove the herbs and plunge them into the ice water. When cool, drain the herbs and squeeze as much water from them as possible.
Place half of the herbs in a blender, covering with the oil. Blend on medium speed for about 1 minute. Turn the speed to high and continue to blend for another 2 minutes. If the oil begins to get hot, stop blending until it cools. Add 1/2 of the remaining herbs and puree for another 2 minutes, then add the rest of the herbs and puree for a final 2 minutes.
You may further strain the oil through cheesecloth, for approximately 1 hour, without pressing the solids, but I didn’t as mine was well emulsified.
Remove to a storage container and refrigerate, using within 1 week, or freeze in small portions. This is a good use for those tiny jam jars if you compulsively save them, like I do.
Recipe adapted from: Keller, Thomas, Deborah Jones, and Susie Heller. The French Laundry Cookbook. 2nd ed. New York: Artisan, 1999. 165-66. Print.