Saturday 11 April 2009

In praise of parsley and the 'trita prezzemolo'

Preparing for Easter picnic, parsley and the 'trita prezzemolo', crop updates.

Tomorrow we are going for a picnic with friends, and I have offered to take some antipasti, sage focaccia and Pimm's.

Incursion into the allotment required to get: mint, sage and parsley.

While I was there I noticed that the rain of the last two day has had a great effect as every green thing is now greener: the buds on the vines are bigger, the broadbeans and mint have grown visibly - quite conveniently for my purpose - and the first chilli has germinated.

Chillies: I hope this year they grow big and plenty, as I use so many. However, for tomorrow I had to buy some at the shop as I wanted to dress some prawns with oil, lemon, chilli and parsley.

And here I will sing the praise of parsley (flat leaf), and the 'trita prezzemolo', possibly the third most important tool in my kitchen after kettle and moka.

You will probably all know that whole parsley leaves taste hardly of anything, especially if thawed, but for some reason if you chop the parsley it will keep its flavour longer and despite freezing. Well, the 'trita prezzemolo' is the Italian answer to this herbal issue.

Although every time I thus chop parsley I cannot but think of the Italian saying "to be like parsley" meaning to turn up everywhere, impossible to get rid of (as is chopped parsley), this herb is said to have several medicinal properties, so I was happy to produce another two tupperwares' full after dressing the prawns. I love the flavour and should definitely use more.

Mixed with garlic it is excellent on stir-fried mushrooms, perfect for seafood dishes, and you can also make a soup (chicken stock, soupe rice, 1 garlic clove - add a couple of pinches of frozen parsley in the last three minutes of cooking). Riverford meat boxes also gives a recipe for salsa verde for eggs and boiled meat.

Tomorrow morning I will improvise the sage focaccia, which is a speciality of the Liguria region in Italy. Never really done before (except for a test dough yesterday), but want to try with both dried and fresh sage, to see whether I manage to get the perfect flavour... or at least as close as possible to the original - which is GORGEOUS!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

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