chimichurri 2

Parsley, especially when used raw, brings a balance of sweetness and bitterness to rich and heavy foods.

At their Panhellenic Isthmian games, ancient Greeks honored the athletically victorious not with gold but with crowns of parsley. And before their violent contests, some Roman gladiators would nibble parsley in hopes of warding off defeat and death.

My first memory of parsley is as the obligatory green thing on a plate of Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes at Bonanza.

How the mighty have fallen.

Luckily, most of the world’s cuisines have not condemned parsley to solitary confinement at the side of the plate. These international condiments don’t just use parsley, they feature it. Parsley, especially when used raw, brings a balance of sweetness and bitterness to rich and heavy foods.

The recipes that follow are quick and easy since they are uncooked. However, that means you must give the parsley a good wash first. It is also best for flavor if the parsley and other herbs are finely minced using a good sharp knife and not a food processor or blender. The herbs are less bruised and the flavors less muddied.

When choosing which parsley, flat or curly, it’s generally best to go with the flat leaf, Italian variety. It has a sweeter, all-around-better flavor and is a little more tender. Curly is fine, but it is a touch more bitter and tougher.

No matter which you use, don’t toss the stems in the compost. They are packed with flavor and when cut finely, nearly as tender as the leaves.

Enjoy the recipes and don’t get stuck on using them just with their traditional pairings. Chimichurri may truly be incredible on a char grilled steak, but it is none too shabby on eggs, mushrooms, shrimp and even French fries. Play around and explore.


chimichurri 1

 

Chimichurri

This South American sauce has dozens of variations. Traditionally, it is used to baste meats on the grill while cooking and as a fresh sauce after. It’s wonderful as a dressing for grilled or sautéed vegetables, too. Or try as a marinade for fish or shrimp. Our photo shows chimichurri as a sauce over seared beef flank steak on grilled bread. This recipe is your starting point.

INSTRUCTIONS

½ cup finely chopped parsley, packed

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano

2-4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Finely minced spicy red chilies, to taste

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. With a knife, finely mince all the fresh ingredients. (Using a food processor or blender makes a very different texture.) 2. Combine with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. 3. For best flavor, let rest for a few hours but use the day it is made. 4. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days. In a pinch, can also be frozen, but there will be a loss in fresh flavor and color.


chermoula 1

 

Chermoula

This North African condiment has wide uses across Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and beyond. Parsley in some amount is in most dishes. This is a good base version. Though often used with fish and seafood, Chermoula can work with anything; lamb and beef are particularly nice. Or skip the meat and savor with vegetables or simply serve as a dip for warm bread. I prefer it made with whole toasted spices and minced herbs, but if you want to skip the knife work and spice grinding, try the easier version.

INSTRUCTIONS

1 cup finely chopped parsley, packed

1 cup finely chopped cilantro, packed

½ cup finely chopped mint, packed

¾ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted

Zest from 1 lemon

Juice from 1 lemon

2-4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Red pepper flakes, cayenne or hot sauce, to taste

½ teaspoon fine salt

1. With knife, finely mince parsley, cilantro, mint and garlic. 2. In frying pan over medium-low heat, cook coriander and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted. Grind in mortar and pestle or spice grinder. 3. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, paprika and salt. 4. Mix all ingredients in bowl. 5. For best flavor, let rest for a few hours. Can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Does NOT freeze well.

Easier version

1. Use all the same ingredients, but swap the teaspoons of whole toasted spices for 1¼ teaspoons each of ground spices. 2. In a food processor, blend lemon juice and garlic. 3. Tear up herbs and add them and everything but the olive oil to the food processor. Pulse until chopped. 4. While pulsing, drizzle in olive oil until blended.


gremolata 2

 

Gremolata

All these parsley recipes are basic, but three-ingredient gremolata verges on primordial. This Italian “sauce” is best known as an accompaniment for Osso Buco alla Milanese, but the bright, sweet, bitter, garlicky goodness goes with everything from beef, lamb and wild game to seafood. Vegetables are not out of the question. Try the potato recipe as proof.

INSTRUCTIONS

1 cup finely chopped parsley, packed

Zest from 1 lemon

2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Salt, to taste

1. With a knife, finely mince parsley and garlic. 2. Mix with salt and lemon zest. 3. For best flavor, let rest a few hours but use the day it is made. 4. Can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for 1-2 days. Does NOT freeze well.

GREMOLATA POTATOES

1 pound potatoes

⅓-½ cup gremolata

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

1. Cut un-skinned potatoes into ½-inch pieces. 2. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. 3. Drain potatoes and while still hot dress with olive oil and gremolata. 4. Add salt to taste and gently mix. 5. Serve warm or as a cold potato salad.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.