The ancient Greeks said that rosemary was good for the brain – a theory that persisted through the centuries (so we find Ophelia presenting it to Hamlet 'for remembrance').
Be that as it may, the Italians love its strong spicy flavour in the kitchen and make no excuses for using it. The French are more subtle with it, but there are many countries that hardly use it at all. There are those who say that rosemary can be unpleasant if it gets stuck between the teeth – but this doesn't happen if the needle-like leaves are stripped from their stems and then chopped before using.
It has a strong affinity with both pork and lamb and can be chopped and sprinkled over joints and chops before baking (you'll find you can make a lovely rosemary-flavoured sauce with the juices left in the tin with some stock and a little wine).
Rosemary grows very easily into a sturdy bush and can be used fresh all through the winter. Dried rosemary is all right, but I would recommend that it be chopped as finely as possible since it's much more spiky when dried.
If you grow courgettes then this recipe is superb for serving the ones that – if you don't keep a sharp eye on them – become baby marrows overnight. If you don't, then this is still a superb way to serve courgettes as a salad with cold cuts.
If you're watching the pennies, shoulder of lamb is much more inexpensive than a leg joint or other cuts. Turn it into something really special with this flavoursome stuffing of rice, olives, onions and herbs.
Black-eyed beans are the lovely nutty beans that are popular in recipes from the deep south of America and, with the addition of other vegetables, they make very good beancakes.
You could make this at any time of the year, but in Delia's view autumn lamb gives the most flavourful results. Serve it with plenty of mashed potato and root veg.
This is a great way to serve celery as a vegetable. I used silicone paper (baking parchment) for this as it looks very pretty if you take the whole parcel to the table – otherwise foil would do. For 4 to 6 people, you can double the ingredients...
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Delia's Flavours of Italy