This is the world’s easiest condiment. Though traditionally an accompaniment to the Milanese classic Osso Bucco, gremolata can brighten up many dishes. I keep a jar on hand in the fridge, and use it whenever my dinner seems a bit boring. Sprinkle it over seafood, pork, game, t-bones, grilled salads , or bruschetta. I even use it to liven up pizza and pasta. You’ll find this and more in my new book, SALT: The Essential Guide to Cooking with the Most Important Ingredient in Your Kitchen. (You can buy it here – B&N – and here Amazon )
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups Italian parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch black pepper
½ teaspoon unrefined salt- try any sel gris, Fiore di Sal, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with herbs, citrus, peppercorns, caper, anchovy, red wine vinegar, red wine, za’atar, or ash
- Combine the parsley leaves, garlic, and zest on a cutting board and mince together into a dry paste. Add the salt and pepper at the end of mincing. Store airtight in the fridge for several days, or freeze for longer storage.
Regional Differences – There are some common versions of gremolata that include the addition of anchovies, grated Romano cheese, and toasted nuts. Ratios are left up to personal taste, but the general rule is that no one ingredient should overpower any of the others.
Persillade – This is the French version, which is contains no lemon zest—just parsley and garlic. It does, however, sometimes appear with olive oil or vinegar. I’d use a French salt here.
Thyme is my all-time favorite herb. It goes with so many foods including meats, fish, veggies, and even sweets. That’s right! Open your mind to the world of herby desserts. This concept is not new. We were actively exploring herbs and pastries in the 80’s when I was a young professional. Today it is ho-hum on the fine dining circuit, but home bakers have yet to embrace it. So here’s your chance. Below is a fantastic lemon-thyme pound cake. There are more than 300 species of thyme, which is a low perennial shrub with twiggy stems, tiny oval leaves, and little white or pink blossoms. It is a standard ingredient in all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines and an important ingredient in several spice blends, including Bouquet Garni, Herbes de Provençe, Za’atar, and Jerk.
One reason for thyme’s popularity is that its flavor is strong and long lasting. Thymol, the main flavor compound, can be found in many other herbs. Several interesting varieties of thyme can be found with distinctive aromas, indicated by the names, including caraway thyme, lavender thyme, mint thyme, oregano thyme, coconut thyme, lime thyme, and lemon thyme. With the exception of lemon, which is fairly common at farmers’ markets, you should be able to find these unique species through specialty growers.
This cake is probably my favorite use of thyme. I think you’ll like it too.
Lemon-Thyme Pound Cake
2-1/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
1/4 cup thyme leaves, chopped fine
2 TB. milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 9×6” loaf pan with butter and parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl with a sturdy spoon or electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar, grated lemon zest, and thyme until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one. Add milk, and slowly add the sifted ingredients. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake at 325˚F for 45-60 minutes, until a pick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack.
- Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over warm cake slowly, letting it soak in thoroughly. Cool completely before slicing.