If you are like me, you may get really excited in the grocery store or farmer’s market, buy heaps of local produce, and then begin to stress as soon as you unload the car: While veggies are affordable, local, and fresh this time of year, it is still a lot of work to use it all once you get home!
Last year, I got into a rhythm of making pesto: I awarded my food processor a permanent home on the counter, remembered to buy all the ingredients on a regular basis, and told myself it really doesn’t take that long… and I did it!
None of my basil turned brown or wilted in the fridge,
and I even took a batch-cooking approach,
making extra for quick week-night meals at a later time.
This summer, though, my challenge has been parsley. My husband picks up our Cedar Mountain Farm CSA (community supported agriculture) from Dartmouth-Hitchcock weekly. I check the bag with anticipation, already planning ways to use garlic scapes, zucchini, lettuce- you name it.
Then I see the parsley…
Week after week, enormous bunches of parsley. I know its benefits have been extoled by the likes of Alice Waters and Yotam Ottolenghi… but I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. After three weeks of parsley piled up in my fridge, it was finally time to do something about it.
I’ll share my two most successful outcomes below, along with a recipe for pesto. With these creations, I dressed my lunch salads, topped pasta, potatoes, veggies, and more. I even created wacky salads just for an excuse to use chimichurri. For example, corn off-the-cob, chick peas and beans, chopped roasted vegetables, lentils, and quinoa can all be labeled “salad” when served cold or on top of lettuce!
These sauces can last 2-3 weeks in the fridge, but freeze some if you have more than you can use in that time frame. If you’re not sure, throw a date on the container, put it in the fridge, and see where you’re at after a week. I use old peanut butter jars or ice cube trays to freeze in various quantities. If using ice cube trays, transfer to jars or bags for long-term storage. Especially if you make many different kinds, be sure to label each freezer vessel—you don’t want to thaw the wrong one by accident!
Three herb-based sauces to try:
This is fundamentally an herb (basil, parsley, arugula, and garlic scapes all work well) plus olive oil, roasted nuts (pine, walnut, pecan, almond, or others) and Parmesan cheese.
The classic is made with basil and pine nuts, but all the others make great options- especially if you have things lying around to use! Taste as you go to adjust proportions.
Add ¾ cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream (or full fat Greek yogurt), a clove or two of garlic, and 2-4 anchovies to a food processor or blender. Throw in the parsley at the end (about ½ cup, although I used more) with chives and tarragon if you’ve got them. Add capers, lemon juice, or vinegar until it tastes like a salad dressing you’d like to eat!
You can adapt the greens based on what you’ve got around. The simpler (Alice Waters) version contains just garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley.
My original experiment with chimichurri came years ago when we ended up with carrot greens. We threw some stuff together, loved the result, and later forgot what we did. Recently, I realized we had made a kind of chimichurri.
The basic difference between chimichurri and the others is red wine vinegar and a wide variety of herbs. I refused to buy more green stuff than I had in the fridge already, so this time around I just used carrot greens and parsley, but you can add fresh cilantro and oregano, too. Shallots and jalapeño can go in there as well… but, again- with all these ideas- the point is to utilize what you’ve got, so if you’re missing an ingredient or two, don’t worry too much. Worse case: You try it, decide you need something, and add it the next day. From personal experience, however, I’ll say that the red wine vinegar really makes this taste right, so don’t skip or substitute that one.