July 31, 2008


Banish that curly stuff that prickles the lips. It's best off garnishing buffet spreads and steak house platters. Embrace instead the flat, sawtoothed Italian parsley. This herb's crisp mineral taste brings a bright freshness to many a dish. Aside from the fact that it makes my mouth feel fresh, it rates as my favourite herb; I use it with walnuts to make a lovely earthy pesto, as a substitute for lettuce greens in sandwiches and salads, and as a digestive. (more about the medicinal attributes later)
This morning, for example, I made myself a fried egg sandwich and loaded it up with parsley. Not too complicated – just a broken fried egg, a slathering of mayo, ground fresh pepper and a pile of parsley. I happened also to have some leftover balsamic grilled red onions so I added those – the light tang of vinegar is particularly nice with the parsley. If I hadn't had the onions, perhaps I would have squeezed a bit of lemon over the whole thing or shook a couple of drops of Tabasco into the mayo. Or mustard–some Dijon would have worked too.

Setting aside the egg and the bread, a bed of parsley leaves dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkled with coarse salt and topped with a pile of grilled sweet onion and shaved parm makes a gorgeous salad. Serve that with a Pizza Bianca and a glass of Pinot Grigio...I am starting to salivate.

In any case, back to my egg and parsley breakfast sandwich (move over Mcmuffin) it was a great start to my morning and my pasty morning mouth was immediately freshened by the tingle of the chlorophyll.
This is a great segue into the medicinal and health properties of parsley. First off, who can deny the goodness of dark leafy greens? And parsley, just 2 Tablespoons of it, packs a healthy punch of vitamins A, C and Folic acid. Antioxidents? Check. As far back as Hippocrates it has been used medicinally to treat digestive disorders, urinary tract problems and bronchitis. Cleaning the blood, reducing inflammation, inhibiting histamines. There's no question that it deserves a position next to the morning cup of tea as a daily staple. (Speaking of, I believe my Aunt brews it as a tea and drinks it daily) Start by freshening your breath and reap many other rewards.

Parsley-Walnut Pesto

2c flat-leaf Italian parsley(stems removed and saved for stockpot)
1/2 c roughly chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
approx 2 pinches coarse salt, or sea salt (to taste)
freshly ground pepper
1tsp orange zest ( optional)

Process parsley, walnuts and garlic with about 1 pinch of salt in food processor until coarsely chopped. Add Parmesan cheese ( and orange zest, if using) and pulse til blended with other ingredients. with machine running, pour in olive oil. Season with more salt and pepper as desired.

Experiment with getting the texture and proportions you like. Add a bit of lemon juice or zest. Leave out the cheese if you're a Vegan or add 1 tbsp softened butter for richness if you're not!

Serve this over pasta, with lamb, chicken or pork tenderloin. It is a lovely finishing touch over roasted root vegetables in the fall, or diluted with a bit of sherry or red wine vinegar and a bit more olive oil and blended as a salad dressing...

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