Last year, the herb sauce heart-throb in my life was chermoula, a zippy and drippingly flavorful cilantro sauce, good on vegetables and meat alike. Out on the farm back then the dry and hot winds would push intensely fragranced plumes of cilantro over neighboring acres. Slicing off rhubarb flowers? Mmm, cilantro. Running to stay ahead of the irrigation system while rogue-planting some peppers? Cilantro clouds boisterously envelope your weary frame.
Anyway, to me cilantro is for the hot months. This cooler, Minnesotan weather keeps me with another herb, parsley. And as you will soon see, persillade is just the jumping off point…
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (curly also works, though the texture will tougher)
4 garlic cloves
up to 1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt to taste
In its most simple form, persillade is parsley leaves, separated from their stems, washed, dried and pounded (or blended in the food processor) with garlic and as much or as little olive oil as you desire. After that, things get interesting:
Parsley, garlic and olive oil.
Version II: parsley, garlic, olive oil and anchovies (1/2 tin, or 1 tablespoon paste).
Parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon zest (zest of one lemon, without white bitter pith and coarsely chopped before blending).
Parsley, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan (1/2 cup, grated).
Parsley, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan and nuts (1/2 cup, grated and 1/4 cup, toasted and cooled nut of choice [traditionally basil and pine nuts]).
This is the utmost; a true intersection of cultures, history, food and even some linguistics. The addition of one or two ingredients completely changes the profile of this simple sauce. Even with their differences, all these variations can be used as finishing dollops in soups, bestowed upon grilled meat or baked fish, tossed with noodles or even cooked with–heat will subdue the fiery nature of raw garlic–as a complex base for anything you would like.