You may know parsley as a garnish on your plate at a restaurant; you probably don't even eat it. But did you know that it's a nutritional powerhouse? A two-tablespoon serving of raw parsley only has about three calories yet it has 12% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, 16% of your Vitamin C, and over 150% of your Vitamin K. All of these - as well as folic acid, calcium and iron, also in parsley - are crucial whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding or just aiming for general good health.
So, how to incorporate this verdant herb into your diet? Certainly you can add it chopped to just about anything. Or you can make chimichurri, a delicious green sauce used traditionally as a marinade or topping for meats (but delicious on lots of other foods, too). It's easy, inexpensive and crazy tasty. Here's my version:
- one bunch flat-leaf (aka Italian) parsley
- 4 large cloves garlic
- juice of one lime
- 3T red wine vinegar
- 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
- 1t salt (or more, to taste)
- large pinch of red pepper flakes
Immediately before using, wash your parsley well; it can be sandy. Shake off excess water.
Peel cloves of garlic and toss in the food processor. I should note that my cloves were quite large. If they were smaller, I'd use 5-6 cloves. This should be garlicky! (And, of course, garlic offers its own nutritional benefits: it's a great source of manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium.)
Chop garlic. It doesn't have to be perfect as we'll be processing it more once the parsley is added.Pack the food processor with the parsley.
the red wine vinegar,
and the EVOO.
Toss in the salt and the red pepper flakes.Pulse until everything is well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let the chimichurri sit for at least 30 minutes (preferably a few hours) in order for the flavors to meld. I made it for my sister's birthday - she requested a steak dinner, a rarity for my family - and everyone raved. Said my husband: "We should have a vat of this in the fridge at all times, so I can put it on everything I eat."
But this nutrient-dense, low-calorie sauce isn't just for meat. Use it as a dip for hot oven fries. Toss it with pasta or brown rice, spoon it over grilled portobellos or zucchini or a baked sweet potato. I did the latter and it was AMAZING. When the raw sauce hits the hot potato, it smells fantastic and is a fabulous balance of savory and sweet.
So, start keeping a vat of chimichurri in your fridge. And start eating that parsley garnish when you're out to dinner, too!