In one of my fleeting 15 minutes-of-fame moments (sic), I was on the radio and was asked a question that flustered me: Is there something about food, styling-wise, that you really dislike? I thought for a minute...and my answer was...parsley. I have a great disdain for unnecessary use of parsley. Now that I look back on that statement, I feel the need to clarify.
The truth is...I love parsley. A lot. I think it has such great character and flavor. It's vibrant and it actually does taste like something, contrary to popular belief. Parsley just gets a bad rap because of the blatant and rampant use of chopped curly parsley that really adds little to the dish besides a smattering of color. I am not a fan of superfluous garnishes. If the dish that you're eating needs a sprinkle of parsley to look healthy or colorful, you're in trouble.
One of my absolute favorite uses of flat-leaf (or Italian) parsley is a simple parsley salad. When I am in the mood for comfort food, there is very little that speaks to me like a herby, flavorful roast chicken and parsley salad. The two pair beautifully together - the zing that parsley has dressed with some simple lemon and olive oil adds layers of depth to the chicken.
I have made a spruced-up version of this for CookThink's first Root Source Challenge, which this week is...flat leaf parsley. I made this at the holidays a year or two ago and it was spectacular. Coarsely ripped parsley paired with thinly sliced red onion and fennel is topped with a quick shaving of Parmesan cheese. The flavors really sing and the textures are out of this world. A mandoline is very helpful here - both in speed of preparation and maintaining uniformity of the onion and fennel.
Parsley, Red Onion, and Fennel Salad - serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley - washed, dried, and hard stems removed
- 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced to desired thinness
- 1 medium red onion, sliced to desired thinness
- 1 large lemon
- 1 tbsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese - optional*
- Combine parsley, fennel, and red onion in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice over the ingredients. Top with a couple turns of cracked black pepper. Toss all to combine. Before serving, roughly grate Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
*If you're omitting the cheese, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a quick re-toss would be a suitable substitution.