Parsley has always been a slightly pedestrian ingredient for me. It is a flavour that I grew up with, usually in a subdued butter sauce, napped over cod or boiled ham and potatoes. But, I’ve recently discovered a renewed appreciation for the citrus, spicy, grassy flavour of raw parsley. Sadly, it rarely features as the main star in a dish and is often relegated to garnishing.
Besides being an underrated flavour, parsley is also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It contains 128.8% more iron than spinach per gram! (You can see a nutritional comparison between spinach and parsley at foodstruct.com. They have excellent visual comparisons and nutritional information for tons of other ingredients too.)
I got to thinking of ways to eat raw parsley (and other greens) to celebrate the clean flavour and preserve the nutritional benefits. I could make a smoothie, of course… but the idea of a parsley-flavoured-sludge-drink seems more like punishment than pleasure.
So, I created this enlivening puree of parsley, spinach and raw broccoli. The greens are tempered with garlic, lemon and parmesan, and the texture is bolstered by cashew nuts and oil. This “pesto” (that isn’t really a pesto at all) is a suitable canvas for grilled fish, chicken or chargrilled vegetables. Thanks to the umami parmesan, sour lemon, and fresh garlic body, it makes a versatile base for all sorts of dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Salad Bowl Base -Use the thick “pesto” as a bed for chopped salad and proteins for a quick lunch that can be prepped ahead of time.
- Stirred with cooked pasta- Use pasta cooking water to create a healthy and tasty sauce with grilled prawns/chicken/vegetables.
- As a dip – Use fresh veggies/pita/chips as a vehicle for scooping.
- Salad Dressing- Thin the puree with some water for a healthy salad dressing.
- Mixed with cooked rice or quinoa as a side dish.
- Make a sandwich- thickly spread the “pesto” over bread and layer with slices of tomato, mozzarella and crispy gem lettuce. (Better yet, toast that sandwich -without the lettuce!)
Super-Green Raw Parsley
This fresh, super green parsley pesto contains loads of raw greens, and healthy fats for a supercharged shot of vitamins and minerals.
- 140g Raw Broccoli - Green Parts only - no stem.
- 50g Parsley Leaves- No stems
- 70g Spinach Leaves
- 50g Grated Parmesan/Grana Padano or vegan alternative
- 1 Lemon - zest and juice
- 1 Garlic Clove - roughly chopped.
- 80-100ml Olive Oil or Cold pressed Rapeseed Oil
- 80g Cashews
Wash all the greens thoroughly and dry as much as possible.
In a frying pan, toast the cashews over a medium heat until they're evenly browned. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor, blend the greens, garlic, salt, lemon zest & juice, nuts and the grated cheese to a thick paste. Scrape down the sides to incorporate everything.
Add the oil in a slow stream with the food processor running until the desired texture is reached.
- Best served fresh on the day of making, but will keep well for an additional day.
- To make the recipe vegan or vegetarian simple swap the cheese for a veg/vegan alternative cheese
- This recipe forms quite a thick paste with the texture of hummus. You can water it down if you're looking for a thinner consistency.
- I used cashews in this recipe because my husband is allergic to pine nuts, not to mention that cashews are a lot cheaper than pine nuts!
- Save the stem from the broccoli for a stir fry, omelette, soup or salad