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      The many uses of Parsley!

       
      By
      Sep. 3, 2013

      The summer is almost over and the vegetable gardens are blooming with the fruits of the season. If you find yourself with an incredible amount of parsley and, after using it in every possible recipe, you are still submerged by its perfectly designed green leaves, you may want to harvest them and prepare provisions for the winter months when parsley as well as other herbs so paramount to Italian cooking are hard to come by, at least in this part of Canada…

      Harvest the parsley leaves, clean them well by getting rid of the stems and keeping only the leaves, wash them thoroughly and dry them very well. Once the leaves are dry, you can either chop them as finely as you wish or you can just leave them as they are. Either way, freeze them by putting them in a plastic container. You will then have parsley leaves ready to add as the last touch to your favourite risotto or to a bowl of still steaming boiled potatoes or to a nice shrimp salad.

      If instead you want to pamper yourself at home, you can prepare a facemask using six tablespoons of parsley leaves, three tablespoons of Greek yogurt and two teaspoons of apple vinegar. Mix all the ingredients with a blender, until the texture looks smooth. Place it in a container and refrigerate until it is time to use. It is ideal for oily skin, but works perfectly on all types. Spread the mask on your face, avoiding the area around your eyes and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. Remove with a wet face cloth. You will feel your skin smooth and clean. This mixture lasts for about 24 hours if refrigerated.

      Another way to use parsley is to prepare salsa verde, a sauce where the main ingredient is parsley. For those not very familiar with salsa verde, let’s say it is something similar to pesto, with the main difference being that pesto has basil leaves and salsa verde has parsley leaves. The name salsa verde comes from the vivid green colour of the parsley and is originally from Piemonte (where it is called bagnèt vert, green bath). We find variations in other Italian regions, such as for example Emilia Romanga and Veneto. In Lombardia, gremolada is a relative of salsa verde, although it is not a sauce as the amount of oil of olive is limited. It is served to dress ossobuchi.

      Salsa verde has numerous usages in the kitchen, although it was originally invented to be served with bollito misto (a mix of different types of meat that are boiled). In fact salsa verde was born to give flavour and provide some moistness to the dry and plain boiled meat or fish. Now that bollito misto is prepared with different cuts of meat, the use of salsa verde is mostly relegated to moments of nostalgia when one wants to recreate the flavours of the past or has been developed into other recipes and its use reinvented.

      The recipe for salsa verde has different variations. Recipes vary from family to family, from village to village.

      The following recipe uses salsa verde as a sauce for pasta. It is best served cold and it is a perfect dish for the end of the summer.

      Orecchiette in salsa verde

      INGREDIENTS
      500 grams orecchiette
      Large bunch of parsley leaves
      2 hard-boiled eggs
      2 garlic cloves
      1 teaspoon capers
      3 anchovies
      1 cup of stale bread or 1 cup breadcrumbs
      White vinegar
      Extra-virgin oil of olive

      Clean, wash and dry the parsley leaves. Chopped them very fine. Hard-boil the two eggs, let them cool down, peel them, cut them in half and scoop out the yolk. Chop very finely the capers, the anchovies and the two cloves of garlic until you have a nice paste. Put the paste in a bowl.  Soak the bread or breadcrumbs in vinegar. After 5 to 10 minutes, press the yolks and the bread/breadcrumbs through a strainer placed over the bowl. Mix well. Add the parsley and mix well once again. Add the extra virgin oil of olive. If you like the salsa verde to be finer, you can put the mixture through the food processor. You can add some pecorino cheese to add some extra flavour.

      Keep the salsa verde in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

      Boil the pasta and when al dente, drain it, add the salsa verde, mix well and serve!

      Buon appetito!

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