Make Gremolata and sashay through a lotta delicious meals. Swagger even, it carries a wickedly delicious punch and it’s easy. An Italian condiment that’s used as a garnish, often with braised meats like Osso Bucco, Gremolata adds whopping flavor, consists of three ingredients and takes moments to make. Like Mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, this is the thing that adds zing to whatever. Just the right touch and it doesn’t take much.
Lemon zest, parsley and garlic are traditional, though mint, anchovies, and Parmesan are often used. After that, we’re pushing the boundaries of what the Italians know to be traditional Gremolata. Basil, olive oil, bread crumbs, non-traditional, but why not? Here’s how to make it, expand it, and some ways to use it.
Basic Gremolata Recipe
Notes: Depending on the type of dish, this basic recipe, 1/3 cup, is generally enough to embellish four servings. A little goes a long way, perhaps a teaspoon or two per serving is enough. Can be made ahead, but ideally make it and use it in the moment. Zest the lemon with an official zester, or peel just the thin yellow layer with a peeler and then chop very finely – remember to avoid including the bitter white membrane. The garlic may be offputting to some. Even if you love garlic you might want to use less than what’s suggested. For me, all recipes are suggestions – except when baking.
Ingredients & directions: Zest of one lemon/ ¼ C finely chopped fresh parsley/ 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped – more if you really like raw garlic flavor, less if you don’t/ Mix together and that’s it. Too easy.
Add this a teaspoon or two at a time to Osso Bucco or almost any piece of meat or vegetable just before serving.
And there are many interpretations and uses for Gremolata.
Gremolata With Pasta
Ingredients & directions for three or four servings: Quadruple the basic Gremolata recipe except for the garlic (double is plenty), and set aside. Stir the following ingredients into piping hot pasta: 1 – 2 teaspoons finely chopped or smashed anchovies, red pepper flakes to taste, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons each of olive oil, toasted or dried bread crumbs, fresh basil (optional) and lemon juice. Add a few tablespoons of cooking liquid if pasta seems dry. Add 1 cup of Gremolata, toss and serve immediately. Extra topping and/or Parmesan optional.
Normally, a little Gremolata goes a long way – a tablespoon adds a lot of flavor to a serving. Except for pasta. For a pile of steaming hot pasta, enough for three or four people, make one cup by quadrupling the basic recipe. Serve pasta as is or with a piece of fish or chicken. Had this for dinner the other night with crispy Parmesan chicken. Bingo.
Gremolata with Rice
Toss ¼ cup basic gremolata with 3 cups of cooked rice while it’s still hot. Add the juice of the zested lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss periodically as rice cools. Eat at room temperature with whatever you like, especially fish or steamed greens.
Gremolata with Favas, Green Beans, Brocolli
Green beans will appear in the vegetable garden soon.
Par boil green beans or broccoli for 2 minutes, shock in ice water to retain bright green color. When ready to serve, sauté in olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes, toss with Gremolata and serve. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint to basic Gremolata for green beans if that sounds good.
For fava bean salad, start with 3 – 4 cups of fava beans, add cumin and fresh squeezed lemon to taste, plenty of olive oil, at least 2 tablespoons of basic Gremolata and extra parsley. Instant spring/summer salad.
You might be wondering how to deal with freshly harvested fava beans. A labor of love they are, though a delicious one. This video provides excellent instruction.
Fava bean plants are a great source of nitrogen for the vegetable garden so we grow them as a cover crop for that purpose, and reap the benefits of fava bean salads, soup or spread before we dig them under.
Gremolata with Meat
Add a teaspoonful of Gremolata to lamb, pork, or chicken before serving, or garnish Osso Bucco in this traditional way. Again, add a little mint if that sounds good. Mint is one of the basic five or six ingredients often present in Gremolata.
Gremolata with Pizza or Foccacia
Add anchovies and olive oil to the basic recipe. Spread Gremolata over piping hot pizza or foccacia. Return to the oven for just a minute or two, remove from the oven and eat while warm.
Gremolata with Soup
Especially good with squash soups, but really almost any soup, including seafood chowder. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of basic Gremolata just before serving, or stir 3 – 4 tablespoons into 1/3 – 1/2 cup sour cream, plain yogurt, crème fraîche, or a combination. Garnish each bowl with a spoonful.