cook & think – flat leaf parsley February 18, 2008

Parsley2 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.



Johnny Zone Feb 18, 2008 11:02 pm

I am guilty of sprinkling a little bit of torn (not chopped) cilantro around a risotto dish I recently dish. =(

tami Feb 19, 2008 07:02 am

Well..cilantro has actual taste, even when its chopped up finely :)

Helen Feb 19, 2008 08:02 am

I totally agree with you about the pointless garnish thing Tami – so annoying! If it’s not there for flavour, it shouldn’t be there at all. That salad looks really delicious. I’ve come up with a recipe for the challenge too and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone elses ideas.

Claire Feb 19, 2008 12:02 pm

Thanks so much for submitting to the Root Source Challenge – it looks delicious. Good luck!

gadgetgeek Feb 20, 2008 01:02 pm

Delicious Looking so I had to try it. I got it done too late to get it entered, but I did post my pictures on Flickr. I added Basil, shaved the Parmigiano Reggiano rather than grating it and used Walnut oil not olive oil. Mine was as great tasting as yours looked Tami. Here is a link to the pictures I shot.

Hillary Feb 22, 2008 11:02 am

That parsley looks incredibly fresh and delicious!