Mouth-Popping Enhancements for Crappie

Gremolata, part condiments and part garnish, is one of those dishes where synergy creates something that tastes better than the sum of its parts. Garlic, lemon and parsley are common members of your kitchen’s staff. This Italian condiment consists of these three items finely chopped together. Served it sprinkled over any number of dishes will make every mouthful pop with bright, fresh flavors. Gremolata barely needs a recipe because it’s so simple but here’s one to start with.

Gremolata is most commonly used for a final flourish of flavor to add a fresh zippy note to fish and other dishes. But don’t limit yourself. Try it sprinkled over grilled or roasted meats and vegetables.

For instance, asparagus is particularly better with gremolata, as well as many pasta dishes. Creamy bean dishes, especially if they contain meat, are sure to benefit from a sprinkling of this simple embellishment. It’s even good on beanie weenies.

 

Gremolata
1 cup parsley, loosely-packed (washed and dried)
1 clove garlic, papery skin removed
2 lemons, organic (washed and dried)

Remove the leaves from the parsley and chop finely to make less than 1/2 cup. Finely grate garlic clove over the parsley and grate lemons on top of the garlic. Mix ingredients as you go. Best when used fresh but you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day.

 

Options: Replace garlic with shallots or the lemon with another citrus fruit such as lime or mandarin orange. For a mint version use cilantro, lime and shallots. Create a cuisine adventure by mixing in a few fresh herbs with the parsley, such as a bit of tarragon. Because gremolata is so simple, it is easy to let you imagination add flourishes.

About the ingredients: Since the garlic is raw, you want it as fresh as possible. Old garlic will be yellow and sticky, often with a green shoot growing out, and it will smell strongly and slightly acrid. If you only have older garlic, remove the green stem and blanch it for a few minutes in boiling water to remove some of the acrid taste.

            Use organic lemons if possible because you will only be using the zest where non-organic lemon peel can harbor insecticides.

            Use flat leaf parsley if available, and wash it well. Most importantly, be sure it is completely dry before you start chopping it. If possible wash and dry it a few hours before you use it and then wrap it in a towel to absorb the last few drops of water. If the stems are thin and subtle, don’t worry too much about including them. If the stems are thick and tough, you’ll want to pluck the leaves. Chop the parsley as finely as possible. Parsley adds a clean, fresh, herbal note.