fresh parsley

The smell of parsley makes me think of Passover, and the Seders we had at our house, all through my growing up years, with different friends each time, when my mom would make a big meal that everyone would rave about. On those nights, we’d dip sprigs of parsley in salt water—the parsley symbolizing spring and the newness of life, the salt water reminding us of the tears of Israel while they were in Egypt, before God parted the Red Sea and brought them out of captivity.

Until last night, that was the only place I’ve ever eaten parsley on its own. I’ve had it in things—like Thanksgiving stuffing, where it reduces from leafy stalks to bending, fragrant herbs on the stove, drenched in butter and sauted with onions. I know bits of it—dried or fresh—go into all kinds of marinades and rubs, and I know it’s very inexpensive to buy at the store (I want to say it was $0.99 for a bundle in November Wisconsin, which, when you think about it, is kind of amazing).

But when I saw the fat package of it in my CSA box, I figured I may as well give this formerly-only-of-the-holidays herb a chance to stand on its own, a chance for us to get to know each other in a new context.

Enter this Lemon-Rice Parsley Salad adapted from Food + Wine.

sweet pepper

Besides the fact that this recipe calls for a full cup of packed, chopped parsley (exactly how much I had! do you believe in fate?), it also requires half a sweet pepper, which was a bonus in my learning-to-use-vegetables plan.

half a sweet pepper

Now, as far as getting out of my comfort zone, I cheated a little with this one, since I already knew I’d like it when I saw the olive oil and lemon juice, which, between us, can usually make me like just about anything. (I read an article once about a famous chef I can’t recall the name of now, who said everything is improved with a little lemon on top. Amen.)

lemons

rice and olive oil


some lemon and salad

It took maybe 5 minutes to pull together because I had leftover cooked rice on hand, but even with that added step, it’s 20 minutes, tops. The Food + Wine article made a big deal about the health benefits of parsley, which offers vitamins A, C and K, as well as very low calories, so I may as well point that out to you, too.

And, as far as taste? Well, this very healthy, very easy salad was full of flavor, from the olive oil dispersed throughout to the bursts of lemon to the creaminess of the rice and the bitterness of the herbs.

salad

I liked it, and I’m having some in my lunch today—although, transparently, I think the parsley flavor will take some getting used to, at least while I’m still trying not to think of Elijah’s chair and ten drops of grape juice and matzo piled with haroset, while we talk about blood on door posts and death of firstborns. Next time, I’d chop the parsley more finely, and I might reduce it to 3/4 cup or even 1/2 cup—you know, small introductions. For now, we’re starting somewhere.




Lemon Rice-Parsley Salad
Adapted from Food + Wine

One thing I will definitely do differently if I make this again: chop the parsley very finely. Because parsley and I are still on new footing, I want it in teeny-tiny bits, not large, rough pieces I have to chew on, but that is my preference; feel free to tweak for yours.

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked rice (I used leftover white basmati rice, with a little butter, reheated on the stove)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped*
1/2 small sweet Italian frying pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
In a large bowl, toss the olive oil and the lemon juice with lemon zest, and then stir in the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Joanna

    I’ll have to give this a try. I eat rice almost every day. It’s cheap and gluten free :) My favorite is cilantro lime rice, but I’m always looking to try something new with my rice.

  2. Jacqui

    fresh parsley is one thing i’m not too crazy about in large quantities. one time i sent murdo out for cilantro for tacos and he brought back parsley. i kept thinking the entire time, “this taco tastes so weird…” haha parsley + mexican food doesn’t quite mix, fyi. but i do agree that lemon rocks.

  3. Amanda Mae

    I’ve heard much about the healthy benefits of parsley, so good for you! I’m always looking for ways to use our parsley (who knew it was more than a garnish?!) – I’m going to have to try this rice.

    Have you tried making a Chimichurri sauce? This one is really good: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chimichurri/ – if I don’t have oregano I replace it with cilantro. It’s so good on grilled vegetables, in tacos, over potatoes, or on just about anything!

  4. Kathi D

    I love rice, morning, noon, or night. I have a big rice cooker that makes 10 cups and keeps it serving temp for up to 24 hours. I will definitely chop the parsley superfine if I try this, because I don’t like the chewiness of it either.

    You take the best food photos! They make even the humblest ingredients look glamorous.

  5. Shannalee

    Joanna – Yum, cilantro lime sounds great, too! I might have to try THAT!

    Rachel – I’ve never had that, but it came up in searches when I was looking for a parsley salad. Do you like it?

    Jacqui – Is it weird that I feel some measure of relief knowing you, my vegetable role model, doesn’t love parsley? So nice to hear.

    Rebekka – I think clean is a good description! And thanks for the compliment!

    Heather – Someday, I’ll probably be eating parsley and talking about that blog post I wrote back in the day…

    Amanda – I’ve never tried that sauce, but I absolute LOVE when people suggest recipes, so thank you! If next week’s CSA box is anything like this one, I will definitely try your suggestion!

    Kathi D – I know! Rice is so easy to love. And yeah, if you try this, really really fine—like food-processor fine. That might be nice. Thanks also for the compliment! I’ve been having such a time with my photos lately, but maybe the slump is on its way out.

  6. Hannah

    if you like this, you should definitely try taboule! or even if you don’t like this…molly katzen’s recipe for taboule is delicious…and has olive oil and lemon. :)

  7. Shannalee

    Thanks, Kim!

    Elizabeth – I love Middle Eastern food!

    Hannah – OK, sold. Thanks for the tip!

    RedMenace – Thank YOU for the kind comment!

    Donalyn – Fresh parsley in your garden! A CSA is as close as I’ll come to that for now, but someday…

  8. lo

    You know, I didn’t give parsley its due until a few years ago when I made an eggplant lasagnette that called for (what seemed like) copious amounts of the fresh herb. I happened to have a bunch of Italian flat leaf on hand, so I threw it into the dish. And AH, what a fantastic difference it made!

    Since then, I’ll believe anything I read about the miraculous qualities of this herb. Especially, as you so wisely note, if it also contains a bit of lemon. It’s gotta be good.

  9. Emily

    Parsley is one of those herbs I NEVER think is as important to the taste of a dish as it is. I don’t really like its flavor on its own, but I miss it when it’s … missing. Like celery.

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