Rosemary is one of my very favorite plants, both in the garden and in the kitchen. Its near-legendary toughness make it an excellent choice for spots in the garden where most other plants might fade -- I have this particular bush, the everyday Rosmarinus officinalis, in the poky little strip between the house and the driveway, which not only has to contend with poor soil but with the brutal late-afternoon sun, and yet it still thrives. Rosemary tolerates hot sun or cooler coastal breezes and salty ocean air, as well as temperatures down to 15° F/-9° C, all on very little irrigation. It does well in pots, too, for those who have little garden space. Depending on the variety, the flowers may be white, lavender-pink, deep blue, or officinalis's delicate sky blue.
Most mornings when Julia walks by the bush, she stops and strokes the silvery-green branches, happily inhaling the scent on her hands for a long time afterwards.
This recipe is adapted from an Italian family favorite from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking -- Nigella Lawson gives a similar one in How to Eat. This is a good recipe for even small children to help with in the kitchen, as there are a lot of simple steps such as adding the rosemary sprigs to the pot. We like garlic so much around here that instead of using crushed cloves that are removed from the butter sauce before it goes on the pasta, I usually use chopped garlic and leave it in. I also add a good handful per person of halved cherry tomatoes, making it a light and quick meal in itself, redolent of butter, garlic, and heady rosemary.
Fettucine with Butter and Rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (or 3 or 4 whole cloves)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, at least a finger-length each
1 teaspoon beef or chicken bouillon (1 cube)
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 lb. fettucine or linguine
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Prepare the pasta according to package directions, and make the sauce while it cooks.
If you are using whole garlic cloves, lightly crush each one with the flat part of a knife blade, pushing down with the heel of your hand just enough to split the clove and loosen the peel; remove the peel and discard. Halve the cherry tomatoes, and set aside.
Cut the butter into chunks and place it with the garlic and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bouillon, and stir until it is completely dissolved.
When the pasta is cooked and drained, remove the rosemary stems (and the crushed cloves, if using) from the butter sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta, and toss well. Add the grated Parmesan and the cherry tomatoes, and toss again. Serve immediately, with additional cheese at the table.
Makes about 4 servings. Preparation time, about 25 minutes.