Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Power of Parsley

Parsley doesn't get the recognition it deserves. It has a mild flavor and scent, but is overshadowed by more flavorful and aromatic herbs. For the most part it is viewed as the garnish that tops off a main dish or as the arm candy (garnish) for the real meal on your plate, especially in most restaurant scenes.

This is in no way indicating parsley doesn't deserve a significant place in the order of herbs. It has good flavor, but it prides itself on providing just enough of that 'mmph' to complete just the right mode you are looking for in whatever you may be preparing. That includes chicken, veggies, beans, mussels, pasta, rice, seafood and so on. Though its real power is providing flavor to stocks. Our friends at have the low down on parsley's background, uses and place in history.

Experimenting with ways to focus on parsley and its properties resulted in the best chick pea patties (aka: falafel) that have ever come out of my kitchen. Better yet, it was very simple. Here's what it entailed:

1 15oz can chick peas
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg yolk
1 zucchini
1 red onion
dash of cayenne
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of curry
3 tablespoons of parsley
dash of lime or lemon juice
Olive oil

...for the dipping sauce.

2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of mint
1 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne (optional)

Place the raw chick peas in the food processor and reduce to a paste (doesn't have to be absolutely smooth, some chunks are good). Heat the chick peas until hot in a sauce pan and flavor with salt and pepper. When done place in refrigerator to cool (luke warm is fine). Shred the zucchini and red onion in a food processor then sauté in a sauce pan until hot. Combine the cooled chick pea paste, zucchini/red onion mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix well and add salt & pepper to taste.

Shape the mixture into patties the size of your palm. Place these in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so to cool & harden a bit. Heat olive oil (enough for about a 1/4 inch deep pool) on medium-high in a skillet till until hot. Place patties in the olive oil for three to four minutes on each side (adjust heat if needed to avoid burning). These should be brown on the outside, hot and moist on the inside. When finished place on a paper to rest.

On a whim I created dipping sauce that hit the right spot. The warm and toasty patties mixed well with this cool and tart sauce. Just mix the yogurt well with the mint, paprika, cumin and cayenne (add salt/pepper if necessary).

These can be eaten as a stand alone with the dipping sauce as a side or placed on a crisp lettuce leaf (and/or tomato slice) in between two slices of toasted wheat bread smeared with the dipping sauce. What resulted was the perfect combination of hot and cool. The parsley took the lead doing double duty in this dish. Its mild flavor gave the chick peas a more rounded flavor and also created a beautiful green tint to the patties. There are quite a few ingredients and it will take a little bit of time. Though if you have the time this dish is definitely worth your blood, sweat and tears. It makes for a great appetizer for gatherings.

Parsley may not be the king of herbs, but it has an all-around game that proves it has an integral part in every kitchen.

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