When I was a sophomore in college I started taking Italian language classes, just for the fun of it. Not to meet any particular liberal arts requirements, just on a whim. I adored it! Loved my teacher, the sound of it, the heartiness and rustic nature of the culture. It was a sort of homecoming, even before I fell in love with the food and the wine. I even tried pasta for my Italian teacher and found that I actually loved it (spaghetti was something that repulsed me as a child). Helping my classmates make homemade lasagne at the end of the semester? I was smitten! I bought my first cookbook after that experience, Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook (naturally) and made my first homemade lasagna with an empty wine bottle. Apparently no one was using rolling pins in those days since they were nowhere to be found in my neighborhood grocery stores!
Years (decades!) later I still am discovering great Italian food ideas and gremolata is one of them. I have attested to my love of parsley here and here so it should be little surprise that I love this herbal concoction; lots of fresh parsley, some garlic and lemon zest pounded (or pulsed) with olive oil and salt to create a very zesty spread, sauce or condiment, depending on your pleasure.
This is a sauce best eaten immediately while the garlic is still pungent and the lemon zest still, well, zesty. The recipe I give below makes about 1 cup, so reduce it if you think you do not need as much. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator but it looses its punch as each day passes.
And yes, today is the anniversary of my birth. According to Italian traditions (as my first Italian teacher told me) one throws their own birthday party in Italy, which I have done since learning of this tradition. That way you get to make what you want and eat it too! Also, it ensures that people know when its your birthday so you don’t sit around like a wall flower hoping someone will remember!
(makes 1 cup)
1 large bunch parsley (about 2 cups not packed)
zest from 1 large lemon, cut in strips
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Combine all in bowl of food processor and pulse until well blended, scraping down the sides intermittently. Add more olive oil depending on how pasty you desire. Spoon onto bread, toss with pasta or scoop up with toasted pita wedges. Also great swirled into soups like lentil or chick pea and kale.
Recipes currently inspiring me: