Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Refreshing Parsley Salad

Before I continue I would just like to say Thank you for giving me a break after the loss of my Mom. Today is the first day I have felt able to get back to posting, and for now I am going to take things day by day. Thanks for your patience.

Can you picture the fresh flavour?

When I think about parsley I usually think about a garnish that adds a beautiful green colouring to your plate. There are over thirty types of parsley, but the two most commonly available are curly leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley. Curly leaf parsley is most often used as a plate garnish and Flat leaf (Italian) parsley which has a stronger flavour is used more often in cooking. Very often you will find a small sprig of parsley (curly leaf) on your plate in a restaurant as it adds a very quick and easy decoration to your plate. Other times you may find parsley finely chopped as a colourful garnish sprinkled on top of many recipes. Some of the most common dishes served with parsley are potatoes, soups, various meat dishes and some rice recipes. It is also one of the herbs used in French cooking as part of a bouquet garni, which is a bundle of fresh herbs that is used as a flavouring ingredient in sauces, soups and stocks. The typical bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs tied with twine or in a bundle with cheesecloth that is simmered in a recipe and removed from the dish before serving. Most often it will contain parsley, bay leaves, basil, rosemary, thyme, celery, carrot, leek and/or onion, depending on what you are making. The usual recipes it is used in are soups, broths, and stews. One of my favorite recipes that use parsley as a key ingredient, is a Middle Eastern dish called Tabbouleh. It is a salad that contains bulgur wheat, parsley and vegetables.  

I think most of us have been told at some point of our lives that parsley is a natural breath freshener, especially for garlic odours. What most of us do not know is that parsley is also a source of flavonoid and antioxidants, folic acid, vitamins K, C & A, lycopene, alpha carotene and of beta carotene. You should avoid eating large amounts of parsley if you are pregnant.
Parsley that has reseeded in my garden

This is parsley that has lasted all winter in my herb garden

I have found parsley to be a very easy herb to grow in my garden; in fact I have been able to grow mine year round in a sheltered area. Parsley is also readily available in most supermarkets.  

So where is this leading? While we were caring for my Mom, my Aunt told us about her parsley salad. I love trying new things and I was surprised to hear about a salad I had never heard of or tried. I could not wait to make it for dinner. In all honesty I cannot remember what we served with it, as it was the total star of my meal. On top of that it is very versatile and super easy to prepare. This has been my cousin’s favourite salad for many years. I have had Tabbouleh in the past (it contains wheat so I can no longer have it) and it is a great side dish.  My Aunt’s basic parsley salad is a simple tossed salad with no lettuce. In place of the lettuce you use chopped parsley. That’s it, so easy. The most difficult part of the preparation is removing the parsley from the stems. After washing I just pinched off the leaves of the parsley. I saved the stems to use in making broth at a later time. I added fresh lemon and garlic to accent the freshness of the parsley. I find it amazing that this salad is not more commonly served as it is so good. 

Connie’s Fresh Parsley Salad

2 bunches of fresh parsley (curly or Italian or 1 of each)
1 cup of chopped English cucumber
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup of chopped radish
Juice and zest of one fresh lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Any other fresh vegetables or fruits that you would like to add to a salad
            (Such as apple, snow peas, asparagus, and broccoli)
Salad dressing of your choice

Wash your parsley and prep it by removing the leaves from the stems. I gave it a quick spin in a salad spinner to remove any extra water from the leaves.

 Add the chopped vegetables and garlic. 

I almost always use fresh garlic. It has much better flavour than powdered or jarred garlic.
Zest the peel of the lemon and then juice it (zest the lemon before you cut it in half as it is much harder to do if you cut the lemon first). Add the zest and the lemon juice to the salad.

Can you see the finely chopped lemon zest. It adds such nice flavour

Serve with the salad dressing of your choice. I used my recipe from a previous post White Balsamic, Garlic and Cumin Salad Dressing aka: Sweet& Sour Dressing as it was already in the fridge. Others used bottled Caesar and ranch dressings. You can use whatever your current favourite dressing is.  I only use homemade dressings as they only take moments to make and I can control the ingredients when I make it.

What I liked best about this salad is how well it went with a meat course and how fresh it made me feel. It can be used with any combination of vegetables, fruits and dressings. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Bon Appetit! This quote really describes my dearly missed Mom. She always shone from within with energy and joy of life. 


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