Sprigging for spring: Parsley stars in sides, salads, sauces

Passover is fast approaching, which means that karpas — the fresh spring greens dipped into salt water — will be taking Jewish tables by storm. According to Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, senior educator at the JCC of San Francisco, “Karpas, originally an array of spring vegetables, symbolizes both the renewal of the natural world during springtime alongside the rebirth of the Jewish people out of the hardships of Egyptian slavery.”

Spring vegetables, the world coming to life once again, the end of slavery. With karpas, it can all come together on your plate.

Children who deign to eat anything besides broccoli and cucumbers in the greens department will love these dishes. I mean, what’s not to love? Asparagus and parsley. Parsley and spices, parsley and salad greens … Wait a second, I’m sensing a theme.

Asparagus and Lemon Quinoa

Serves 3-4

2 Tbs. olive oil

1⁄4 cup shallots, diced

1⁄4 cup carrots, diced

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1 cup quinoa

1⁄4 cup white wine

1 1⁄4 cup vegetable stock plus 3 Tbs. more as needed

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. lemon zest

1⁄2 lb. asparagus, tough stems discarded, remainder cut in 2-inch pieces

2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1-2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

3 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, chopped

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

In a 2-qt. saucepan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Sauté shallots and carrots for 1 minute. Add garlic and quinoa, and turn heat to medium-high. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes to toast. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Add veggie stock, salt and lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, covered. Add asparagus and if the liquid is almost gone, 2-3 Tbs. more stock. Re-cover. Simmer 5 more minutes. When curly tail of quinoa has popped out and all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, parsley and black pepper.

Simple Karpas Salad

Serves 3-4

3 cups mixed greens

1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, stems discarded

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1⁄4 tsp. salt

Pinch of sugar

1 cup yellow and red pear tomatoes, halved

2 Persian cucumbers, halved and sliced in 1⁄4-inch slices

2 Tbs. shaved Parmesan

In a large bowl, toss together greens and parsley. In a jar, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and sugar. Tighten lid on jar and shake until mustard is uniformly mixed in. Toss greens with 3 Tbs. of the dressing. Top with tomatoes and cucumbers. Drizzle with 1-2 Tbs. remaining dressing to taste. Garnish with Parmesan.

Parsley Chermoula

Makes 1 cup sauce

2 cups flat leaf Italian parsley, stems discarded

11⁄2tsp. fresh garlic, minced

1⁄2 tsp. smoked paprika

3⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin

1⁄2 tsp. ground coriander

1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Coarsely chop parsley leaves (in a food processor is best). Place garlic, paprika, salt, cumin, coriander and pepper flakes in a ceramic bowl. Heat olive oil gently in a skillet. When hot but not smoking, pour oil over the garlic and spices. When oil has cooled to room temperature, add lemon juice and then add to chopped parsley leaves. Pulse in a food processor. Serve on grilled chicken or fish.


Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”