Lemon, parsley, and pepper are heaven sent at this purgatory time of year. Summer’s juicy fruits and vegetables were sooooooo long ago. Spring with its perky greens seems soooooo far away.
Don’t get me wrong. I dig turnips, potatoes, onions, carrots and other root vegetables. I’ve done the stews, the soups, the ragouts, and the roasts. But they cry out for something to lift them above the tundra. The Milanese got it right with their gremolata, a minced mix of flat-leaf parsley, lemon zest and garlic that is sprinkled over unctuous ossobuco alla milanese just before serving. Just that sprinkle of fresh herb and citrus enlivens the dish and plays counterpoint to the richness.
Black pepper plays a terrific devil’s advocate when it’s not buried in a sauce. Grind Tellicherry peppercorns coarsely over chicken or turkey scaloppina or braised cauliflower and you’ve added instant visual, textural and flavor interest.
This is why my refrigerator is rarely absent lemons, black peppercorns, and washed/dried/bagged-with-a-paper towel flat-leaf parsley. A bit of any or all of them will make your tastebuds swear that summer wasn’t all that long ago and that spring is almost here.
o Squeeze lemon juice over pan-grilled pork chops, roasted chicken, braised broccoli raab or Tuscan kale.
o Sprinkle minced parsley over white beans, any winter pasta sauce, root vegetables roasted in olive oil, minestrone.
o Grind black pepper coarsely over pastas, beans, pizza bianca, root vegetable pureed soups.
What ingredients do you rely upon to lift your winter weary palate?