Monday, June 7, 2010

Got Parsley?

Only just June, and I am already swimming in parsley. Also in kale, Swiss chard, arugula and lemon balm (the last was a total mistake). Knowing I needed to cut it back lest it totally take over the garden in a month -- it's already lording over the spindly shoots of cilantro trying to reclaim their turf -- I race to my cookbooks, pouring over pages of recipes for wilted greens, mixed greens, green gratin. Done that.

Problem, is, I really hate to toss anything that might be remotely edible. A guilt thing, perhaps, left over from a childhood babysitter who castigated us for not being in the "clean plate club." How many therapists are rich from that chestnut?

She was probably referring to choking down a few peas before moving on to Jello, but I have a worse problem that that now. When I first moved to this town, I noticed that the local grocer (we have a privately held IGA in town that, while it is not fancy, stocks local meats and produce in season, procures organic items as well as Matchbox cars and Elmer's glue, has a pharmacy and an incredible wine selection, the keeper of which shares the same oenophilosophy as me, which is: find good stuff for cheap) offered a box in the produce aisle of "free parsley." I wondered about this "free parsley." I mean, anything free in a retail establishment is pretty suspect.

Now I know EXACTLY why people are giving away parsley. It grows like a weed no matter what. Without love, or water. It tenaciously bushes out, reaching for the heavens when it gets too wide for it's space, like parking lots in Manhattan.

I don't know if you have ever looked for a recipe for parsley the size of a Labrador retriever, but I am telling you, most cooks view parsley as a few sprigs on a lamb chop. Some go nuts and add a half cup to pesto (a chef at my mother's favorite Italian restaurant once told her that kept it green, but I am fairly certain he did not mean a bale of it). I am here to tell you that if one garnished hot dogs, my parsley could handle every frank sold at Yankee field this summer.

Out of desperation, I tried this recipe, mostly because it used the most parsley of any recipe I could find. But now, my parsley has become my friend. This recipe is so delicious, so nutritious, and so easy that I am going to use every last bit of this seemingly steroidal parsley plant, and make peace offerings to the gods to keep it growing. There won't even be a sprig left over for lamb chops. Sorry if I offered any to you, because it's not up for grabs anymore.

Parsley Saute

olive oil or butter
8-10 cups parsley, from 2 or three bunches
3/4 cup mint
2 shallots, minced, about 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, pounded
 2 Tablespoons lemon peel

Heat butter or olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Add shallots and saute over medium heat until soft. Add parsley and saute for three minutes, until wilted. Add lemon peel and mint and cook until mixture is wilted togther, about 5 minutes more. Off the heat and toss with walnuts and walnut oil. Serve hot.

If you find yourself in need of a couple of bunches of parsley, try the Marshall IGA.

And if you know what to do with lemon balm, please let me know.


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