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How to make persillade from your parsley

Carl Legge
Friday, 26th October 2012

At this time of the year in either hemisphere your parsley will start to go to seed. This is a great way to save that valuable crop. You get a bonus of a super tasty store cupboard ingredient that has many uses. And, even better, you have a ready ingredient to help you make a brilliantly tasty quick meal when you're pressed for time.

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If you don’t grow your own, you may see big bunches of parsley in markets. It’s well worth picking these up to make this wonderful ingredient the French call persillade.

Persillade in its most basic form is just a mix of finely chopped parsley and garlic. It can also have oil, vinegar or citrus juice and salt added. In my version, the oil protects the parsley from the air so that bacteria do not breed. The lemon juice or vinegar and salt also have a preservative effect. You can store this in the fridge for a good six months as long as you scrape down the sides of the jar and then keep a topping of oil over the paste. If you forget to do this the surface will soon get a mould.

I’ve set out the ingredients per 100g of herb so you can scale the recipe depending on the quantity you have. Feel free to vary the proportions to taste.

If you have a food processor it will make your preparation quicker and you can also do the chopping by hand with a sharp knife or mezzaluna.

You’ll need some sterilised jars to store the herbs in. You can also vac pac them or pop them in freezer bags or ice cube trays and freeze them.

Ingredients

100g leafy parsley, washed if necessary and leaves roughly picked off stalks. Don't worry too much about stalks, they will process very well.

10 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

About 100-200ml olive oil (or vegetable, rape seed, groundnut)

45ml lemon juice (about ½ lemon) or white wine vinegar

1-2g sea salt, finely ground, or to taste

Method

Finely chop the parsley leaves in a food processor until they reduce in bulk a little. Add the garlic chunks and process until the herbs and garlic are fine without being liquidised.

Gradually add olive oil while the processor runs until you have a just loose texture to the mixture. You may have to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl periodically so that it gets mixed evenly.

Once you are happy with the consistency, add the lemon juice or vinegar and salt to taste. If you are storing the preserve in a jar, top off with oil and pop in the fridge. Otherwise, pack and freeze straight away.

Use and variations

You can add one or more other ingredients to make different dishes and styles of cooking with very little effort.

If you leave this ‘plain’

* Stir 2 or 3 dessert spoons through cooked pasta. When you drain the pasta leave some cooking water in the pan to help distribute the sauce.

* Mix with flash fried squid, grilled seafood and/or new potatoes.

* Spread on top of grilled or baked fish or potatoes before you roast them

* Use as a base on toasted sourdough, ciabatta or baguettes topped with cheese, olives or other nibbles.

Add lemon zest to make a paste similar to gremolata which is a traditional partner for osso bucco.

Add parmesan and you have a parsley pistou used in minestrone or other soups.

Add nuts for a parsley pesto. Add anchovies for a provençal effect.

Add breadcrumbs for a more-ish delight.

Crunchy coating: Mix with lemon zest, chopped anchovies, a hint of ground cumin and/or paprika and a handful of breadcrumbs. Use to coat a rack or shoulder of lamb when roasting. The crunch & punch of the persillade crumbs is a great counterpoint to the soft & sweet lamb.

Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and writes a regular blog full of delicious recipes and more. He is currently writing The Permaculture Kitchen, a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes for Permanent Publications, the book publishing arm of Permaculture magazine. 

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