Hooray! It’s Weekend Herb Blogging time again and this week I’ll be talking about rosemary. And if you keep reading, you’ll even find my recipe for the super yummy rosemary pizza dough I made for lunch today. This week, WHB will be hosted by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen so don’t forget to head over to her site and see what other herbs are being discussed this week.
What? You still don’t know anything about Weekend Herb Blogging? Go read about it here.
Now, let’s get started!
Here in Sicily, you’ll find rosemary (rosmarino, in Italian) growing all over the place! You’ll see it in gardens growing as a culinary herb, but also in planters and lining sidewalks as decorative shrubs. It can even be trimmed into topiaries and bonsai. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region but is a popular culinary herb throughout the world. It pairs well with lamb, chicken, beans, and potatoes and can be added to breads such as focaccia and potato bread. Although some people (like me) can’t get enough of it, it’s important to remember that Rosemary has a very strong flavor and can become easily become overwhelming if you aren’t careful.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods Web site, Rosemary does more than just add wonderful flavor to foods. It’s also really good for you!
“Rosemary contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.” — WHfoods.org
And if all those health benefits aren’t enough to make you want to start using the herb regularly, here’s another one. According to wikipedia, rosemary has long had a reputation to improve memory: “Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (during weddings, war commemorations and funerals) in Europe, probably as a result of this reputation. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead” (wikipedia).
Since I’ve been living in Sicily, I’ve fallen in love with the pairing of potatoes and rosemary. Next time you think about roasting potatoes, try tossing them with some olive oil, salt, and rosemary. You’ll never want to eat roasted potatoes any other way! I also love the pairing of rosemary and potatoes on pizza. You can use sliced, cooked potatoes, fried potatoes, roasted potatoes, whatever you want! Just make sure they are pre-cooked because pizza doesn’t stay in the oven long enough to cook the potatoes if they start out raw. I like to toss sliced cooked potatoes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary before adding them to the pizza. Smoked mozzarella or scamorza cheese is wonderful on a potato pizza but regular mozzarella is great too. You can use tomato sauce or just leave the sauce off and sprinkle with some olive oil.
Other interesting uses for rosemary:
- Use the long stick-like branches as aromatic skewers for kebabs: Strip the leaves from some long branches and thread through cubes of meat and/or vegetables.
- Use a rosemary branch as a basting brush: When grilling chicken, dip the rosemary branch into a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper and use it to baste the chicken.
- Throw some rosemary sprigs onto the grill to create aromatic smoke.
Today, I was in the mood for a potato pizza and decided to try adding fresh chopped rosemary to the pizza dough for a new twist. It turned out great so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. I call this a whole wheat pizza dough because I use both whole wheat and all purpose flour. My main reason for doing this is because it gives the crust a great flavor. I don’t use 100% whole wheat flour in my pizza dough because I find that it is much harder to work with. But feel free to experiment with a larger percentage of whole wheat flour if you prefer.
Whole Wheat Rosemary Pizza Dough
1 1/2 C. warm water
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. brown sugar
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast or 2 t. instant yeast
3 C. all-purpose flour plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 t. salt
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
- Mix the dough: In a medium bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, yeast, water, oil, and brown sugar. Add all-purpose flour, salt, and rosemary and stir with a wooden spoon until dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter or board.
- Knead the dough: using floured hands, knead the dough, adding extra flour as needed, until it is smooth and slightly tacky rather than sticky, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn ball in the bowl to coat both sides with oil then cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Set bowl in a warm place and let dough rise until doubled (about 45 minutes to an hour).
- Preheat the oven: After dough has been rising for 15 minutes, prepare your oven. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack and preheat oven and stone to 500 degrees (or as hot as your oven will go). It is best to let oven preheat for one full hour.
- Divide the dough: When dough has doubled, lightly oil a countertop and turn dough out onto it. With oiled hands, gently deflate the dough. Using a knife or dough scraper, divide dough into four equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball then cover pieces with a towel or lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can put each ball of dough in a ziplock sanwich bag and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and proceed with the next step.
- Shape the crusts: Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter to the side of your oiled work surface. Move the balls of dough to the edge of your work surface and keep them covered. Take one ball of dough out and working on the oiled surface, flatten it slightly with the heel of your palm. Then start pushing the dough out from the center using the side of your hand and working in a circle. When the circle is about 5 inches wide, pick it up and transfer it to a piece of parchment paper. Continue working the dough into a circle, pushing outward with the palm of your hand until the crust is about 10 inches wide. You should end up with a small lip all the way around. Cover crust and let rest for 10 minutes. While the first crust is resting, start forming a second one. After the first crust has rested for 10 minutes, add your toppings.
- Bake pizza: Using a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan, slide pizza and parchment directly onto your preheated pizza stone. Check pizza after 8 minutes. When crust is golden, remove pizza using a peel or slide pizza back onto baking sheet using a large metal spatula.
Now, once you get the dough made, it’s up to you to decide what toppings you want to try. For the pizza I made today I used Tangy Tomato Sauce, sliced, cooked potatoes (that had been seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil), chopped rosemary, and shredded mozzarella. Since my husband is gone right now, I have three more balls of dough in the fridge so I’ll let you know what else I come up with later in the week!
If you think pizza isn’t pizza without some meat, I think the potatoes would go great with some crumbled pork sausage. You might even want to add some sage along with the rosemary. Mmmm…I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it!
I accidentally baked my pizza a couple minutes too long so the cheese got a little over-toasted 🙂 But guess what? The pizza still tasted great!
What’s your favorite way to use rosemary? What toppings would you use with a rosemary pizza crust? I’d love to hear from you!
Around the Web:
- White Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from 101 Cookbooks
- Perfect Pizza Crust from Baking Bites
- Pizza Dough from Smitten Kitchen
- Potato, Leek, Sausage, and Broccoli Rabe Pizza from Stephen Cooks
- Rosemary Potato Pizza from Toast
- Potato Pizzas from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen