Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lentils with Salsa Verde

Parsley is one of my favorite herbs. It is loaded with vitamins E, A and C (1/2 a cup of parsley has more vitamin C than an orange) as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It is literally a nutritional powerhouse. Throw out your supplements and start eating parsley! Parsley helps the body process waste, having a detoxifying action on the entire system, it is also a diuretic and anti tumor. Did I mention it is a great digestive aid and helps the body absorb nutrients?

As you can probably imagine from my gloating love I am always trying to find ways to eat more parsley and encouraging others to do the same. I love the way it tastes and sometimes I find myself really craving the refreshing, salty flavor of those dark green leaves. While I hate to choose, I would say that I prefer the flat leaved Italian parsley over the curly, although I think both have a time and a place. When someone tells me that they don’t like parsley I always recommend they give the flat leaved parsley a try before they give up, many times they change their tune. It is often a little less strong and more reminiscent of a familiar leafy green.

Although I love a good parsley salad, with …. Lets just say apple, red onion, walnut with a light vinaigrette, nothings steals my heart like a good parsley sauce. One of my all time favorites is a traditional Italian “salsa verde.” I learned how to make salsa verde from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food, a beautiful book celebrating the beauty and taste of food’s own unique flavor. This is my recipe that I indulge in liberally and have been on a particular binge with lately (what can I say, there is just so much parsley in the garden). Parsley doesn’t discolor after chopping as basil and other herbs do, so this sauce keeps well and is an amazing and flavorful addition to any summer meal. Lately I make big batches and keep a jar in the fridge.

Lentils:

Soak overnight 2 cups of French lentils. In the morning strain the soaking water and cover the lentils with fresh water. Add 1 bay leaf, ¼ of a cinnamon stick and 5 whole cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered on low until just soft. Don’t overcook them or the will fall apart when you serve. Once done you can fish out the cloves, bay and cinnamon if you have the patience. Don’t strain the lentils when they are hot, if you serve immediately use a slotted spoon.

Parsley/ Caper Sauce:

Finely chop two generous cups of flat leaved Italian parsley (large stems removed).
Combine in a small bowl with:
½ cups capers, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
the zest of one lemon
fresh ground black pepper

Toss ingredients together and cover with a nice Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix together and enjoy. This time of year in New England it can be hard to find an unwaxed organic lemon, so I have not been adding lemon zest lately and it is still very good. I do recommend you try it with the lemon zest at some point! You can add in other herbs too, experiment and be creative.

This recipe serves about 4 as a side dish and is great if you serve the lentils either hot or cold. You can put them over brown rice if you want to beef up the meal a bit. Spoon the sauce over the lentils and enjoy. It's yummy with a few slices of fresh tomato and a hard boiled egg.

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