Rosemary, Sage, Parsley and Thyme

You may have grown up with just paprika and garlic powder in your mother’s kitchen cabinet, or possibly cumin and turmeric if you’re of Sephardic heritage. Herbs like rosemary and thyme were not part of most Jewish cuisine. But nowadays, ingredients like these are found in all kosher cookbooks, and while some skip those dishes, many cooks will venture out of their comfort zone to try new flavors. Herbs add depth of flavor to dishes, so people can use herbs to cut back on sodium intake, as less salt is used to flavor a meal.

Rosemary is a fragrant herb native to the Mediterranean. It is a member of the mint family, along with many other herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil and lavender. The herb not only tastes good but is also a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B6.

Sage is also native to the Mediterranean and belongs to the same botanical family. It’s got high antioxidant levels and packs extra flavor into a meal. Sage has a long history of medicinal use for ailments ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort.

Parsley is the world’s most popular herb. It is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food. While it is uncertain when parsley began to be consumed as a seasoning, it seems to have been sometime in the Middle Ages in Europe.

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. It retains its flavor when dried better than many other herbs. The condiment za’atar contains thyme as its main ingredient. It is also a component of most bouquets garni and of herbes de Provence.

Herbed Rice

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 2 cups diced pastrami
  • 3-4 cups cooked long grain rice
  • Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and herbs. Cook over medium-low heat until fragrant and the onions are translucent.

Turn up the heat to medium. Add the pastrami. Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cooked rice. Serve immediately.

Rosemary Sage Parsley Thyme Chicken

This sheet pan dinner is so flavorful it will earn a permanent spot on your recipe rotation.

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • kosher salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 large lemons, each cut into thick rounds
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary, snipped into 2-inch pieces, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, snipped into 2-inch pieces, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 12 sage leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 pounds small new potatoes, washed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Crush the garlic and place in a small bowl. Add the salt and oil and stir together until combined. Rub the garlic mixture all over the chicken, including under the skin. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Arrange the lemon slices in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish. Top each slice with some of each herb; rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley. Place the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top of the herbs. Add the potatoes to the pan and sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper. Bake until the skin is golden and the juices are clear, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 6-8

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.