Fresh herbs are one of the greatest treats of the garden. The essential oils they contain are full of intense and wonderful flavor that when added to a dish can transform something ordinary into something exciting and new. Many herbs have staple preparations and sauces that we associate with them; basil mixed with nuts, cheese, oil, and garlic gives you a classic italian pesto; rosemary chopped finely and mixed with lemon peel and garlic gives you gremolata, and so on. Dill is normally seen as a classic companion to lox or buttery potatoes, and cilantro is more often than not a welcome addition to any mexican or southeast asian dish. Parsley is a little more inaccessible, and we often see it as a simple garnish on the side of a plate, never having been intended for someone to actually consume it.
Parsley is one of our favorite herbs here at Piedmont Biofarm, and we find that it is somewhat undervalued as a common ingredient in home cooking. There are a couple easy preparations you can make with parsley that you’ll absolutely love, the first being a personal favorite of Brett’s: tabouleh. Tabouleh is a classic middle eastern dish consisting of grain (usually bulgar), lemon juice, onion, garlic, tomato, mint and olive oil. Simply cook a ½ cup of your favorite grain (you could use quinoa, farro, rice, even couscous, though it’s not a grain technically) and let it cool. Mix with 1 cup of chopped parsley, a tablespoon of lemon juice, one chopped garlic clove, one small chopped onion, one diced tomato, and salt and pepper to taste. Let everything marinate for a few hours and to finish it off, mix in ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil, and enjoy in place of a potentially boring salad!
Our other favorite parsley preparation is chimichurri, you can find the link to this recipe here.
When thinking about ingredients, we often limit ourselves due to certain culinary conventions. But who says you can’t make pesto from parsley? It’s delicious, especially when adding mint, omitting the cheese altogether, and using almonds as your nut. It pairs really well with fish, chicken, and rabbit. Honestly, anywhere you see a traditional herb in the family Apiaceae (caraway, dill, celery, carrots, chervil, cilantro, etc.) try subbing in parsley and see what happens. You might really like it!
One last thing: herbs are forcefully flavored, but very delicate. If you over-cook them, they will become brown and much less flavorful. We recommend throwing them into warm dishes only at the very end of cooking. Good luck!