Polite parsley — she never draws attention to her own bright self. Invite her to any party and she’s content to stand by and let everyone else shine by her mere presence. I thought it was high time this under-appreciated herb got her day in the sun so I set out to find recipes where she could play the starring role. Enough of this sprig here, sprig there, garnish mentality. Let’s put her on center stage and see what she’s got.
Of the millions of recipes that contain parsley, surprisingly few list it as a main ingredient. Tabbouleh, also known as parsley salad, is a great one to try, especially as we enter the summer picnic season. It requires no cooking and can sit in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make it ahead and save your leftovers. The traditional grain used is bulgur, which is a type of cracked wheat but you could use quinoa or brown rice instead. I like to go easy on the grains and use plenty of chopped vegetables, especially parsley.
Tabbouleh (Parsley) Salad
Ingredients: A large bunch of parsley, finely chopped. (Arrange in a bunch, start by chopping the stems and make your way up to the leaves)/ 3 spring onions, finely chopped/ 1 tomato, finely chopped/ 1 small cucumber, peeled and finely chopped/ Juice of 2 lemons/ 3T olive oil/ 1/2 cup bulgur/ 1 cup boiling water/ Salt & pepper.
Directions: Place bulgur in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and mix/ Drape a small towel over bowl and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes/ Drain off excess water and let bulgur cool/ Place all the finely chopped vegetables in a large salad bowl and pour lemon juice over them/ Add the olive oil, salt & pepper and mix well/ Add cooled bulgur and mix/ Serve or refrigerate.
Parsley vinaigrette is a versatile dressing that’s delicious on salads, over grilled fish or grains. You can make your favorite vinaigrette recipe and just add loads of chopped parsley or follow this easy recipe.
Ingredients: 2 cups chopped parsley (stems and leaves)/ 1/2 cup olive oil/ 3T fresh lemon juice/ 1/2 T champagne vinegar/1 clove garlic/ Salt & pepper to taste.
Directions: Pulse all ingredients in food processor until well blended.
I found this recipe in the April issue of Bon Appetit where chef Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food, was singing his praises for this under-valued herb. He’s convinced of parsley’s nutritional and healing powers and has used it in his own fight against rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to being a healthy superfood, parsley has a delicious flavor that’s not easily replaced by other herbs. While Parsley Anchovy Butter may not be your idea of a health food it’s one of my favorite spreads for crostini or crackers and makes an excellent appetizer, especially when sipping a gin & tonic. Sounds pretty healthy to me, especially when you use butter from Sea Breeze Farm. After all, when I saw my Dr. at the farmers market on Saturday, she was the one who convinced me to try it — the butter, not the gin & tonic.
Parsley Anchovy Butter
Ingredients: 6T softened unsalted butter/ 2 t parsley leaves, finely chopped/ 1 t minced anchovy/ 2 t shallot, finely chopped/ 1 t lemon juice/ 1/4 t lemon zest.
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl/ Taste and then season with salt & pepper, if you wish.
This recipe has been adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Gentleman’s Relish in Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
A couple other of my favorite ways to use parsley in starring roles — with shredded carrots and/or beets, dressed with lots of fresh lemon juice and a bit of olive oil, or toss a big handful in your next smoothie.
I hope I’ve convinced you that parsley didn’t end up in practically every recipe just for it’s good looks. It’s tasty, healthy, fresh and seasonal, not to mention, inexpensive too.