Cooking enthusiasts love to experiment with different herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of their dishes. One of the most underrated culinary herbs is Rue. If you’re not familiar with it, you may wonder what is Rue in cooking and how to use it. In this article, we are going to provide a simple explanation of Rue, its origin, its benefits, culinary uses, and potential side effects.
What is Rue?
Ruta graveolens, commonly known as Rue, is a perennial herb native to the Balkans and the southeastern part of Europe. The plant has blue-green leaves and yellow flowers. It is part of the Rutaceae family, which also includes lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits.
Origin of Rue
Rue has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, gynecological issues, and heart problems. Rue was also used in medieval Europe to ward off evil spirits and to protect against the plague.
Culinary Uses of Rue
Rue has a bitter, pungent taste with a slightly sweet and citrusy aroma, making it a perfect complement to acidic flavors. In fact, it is commonly used in Mediterranean, Balkan, and Middle Eastern cooking to enhance the taste of vegetables, meats, and salads, especially those that contain tomatoes. Rue is also used to flavor certain alcoholic drinks, such as grappa, vermouth, and Chartreuse.
Rue is used in small quantities because a high concentration of this herb can make a dish bitter and unpleasant. Generally, it is added to dishes at the beginning of cooking to allow time for the flavor to mellow and blend in with other ingredients.
Health Benefits of Rue
Rue contains several beneficial compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and essential oils, which have a variety of health benefits:
- Relieves menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms
- Improves digestion by increasing bile production and reducing inflammation in the gut
- Has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antiseptic properties
- Reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation
Potential Side Effects of Rue
While Rue has many health benefits, it is important to use this herb with caution because it can also cause certain side effects in some people. Rue contains furocoumarins, which can cause skin sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. Other potential side effects include:
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea
- Headache and dizziness
- Increased menstrual bleeding
- Allergic reactions, including rash, hives, and difficulty breathing
It is also important to note that Rue should not be used during pregnancy, as it can cause uterine contractions and potentially lead to a miscarriage.
How to Use Rue in Cooking
Rue is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some common ways to use Rue in cooking:
Rue-infused Olive Oil
One of the easiest ways to use Rue in cooking is to infuse it in olive oil. Simply add a handful of fresh Rue leaves to a bottle of olive oil and let it sit for a few days. The oil will be infused with the herb’s flavor and aroma, making it perfect for dressings, marinades, and other recipes.
Pesto is a classic Italian sauce made with basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Why not add some Rue to the mix? Simply replace some of the basil with Rue leaves and follow your favorite pesto recipe. Rue adds a unique flavor that pairs well with pasta, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats.
Rue is a popular ingredient in soups and stews. It adds a bold, earthy flavor that complements all sorts of vegetables and meats. You can combine Rue with other herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage to create an aromatic base for your soups and stews.
Rue tea is a popular remedy for digestive issues, anxiety, and menstrual cramps. Simply steep a few Rue leaves in hot water for 5-10 minutes and enjoy the calming and healing properties of this herb.
While Rue can be used in a variety of dishes, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way. Use it sparingly to avoid overpowering your dish.
Rue is an ancient herb with a wide range of culinary and medicinal uses. It has a distinct, bitter flavor that pairs well with acidic ingredients and can be used in a variety of dishes. However, it requires careful handling because of its potency and potential side effects. If you are interested in experimenting with Rue in your cooking, start with small amounts and gradually increase as you become familiar with its taste and benefits.
Q: What does Rue taste like?
Rue has a bitter, pungent taste with a slightly sweet and citrusy aroma.
Q: Where can I buy Rue?
Rue can be found at specialty food stores, farmer’s markets, and online herb shops. If you have trouble finding fresh Rue, you can also try using dried Rue leaves or Rue essential oils.
Q: Is Rue safe to use?
Rue should be used with caution because it can cause skin sensitivity and certain side effects, especially when consumed in high doses. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Q: How much Rue should I use in my recipes?
Use Rue sparingly because a high concentration of this herb can make a dish bitter and unpleasant. Generally, it is added to dishes at the beginning of cooking to allow time for the flavor to mellow and blend in with other ingredients.
Q: What are some common dishes that use Rue?
Rue is commonly used in Mediterranean, Balkan, and Middle Eastern cooking to enhance the taste of vegetables, meats, and salads, especially those that contain tomatoes. It is also used to flavor certain alcoholic drinks, such as grappa, vermouth, and Chartreuse.
Q: What are the health benefits of Rue?
Rue has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antiseptic properties. It can relieve menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms, improve digestion, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation.