I don’t want to be presumptuous or anything, but do you have trouble finding a way to save your fresh parsley and cilantro? For that matter, any fresh herb? I used to, but I found a sure proof way of saving it, keeping it fresh, and ALWAYS having some on hand.
This of course is much less of a problem in the summer time when those of us with outdoor space of any kind can grow our own, and always have it ready to pick. But even then, plants don’t always grow enough, and at the right time.
Although with most recipes you can eliminate the herbs like parsley, they do add a definite sparkle to a dish, as well as impart flavor. And no, dried don’t always work as well. Rosemary most definitely is great dried, but things like basil just suck dried, and parsley and cilantro aren’t a lot better.
While I’ve only used this method on parsley and cilantro, I think it would work fine on any herb. So here we go:
You come home with a banded bouquet of parsley. Leave on the band or not as you desire. Depending on the size of the bundle you may want to work in a couple of smaller bundles. The stems of parsley can be fibrous, so you don’t want to be chopping the lower parts of the stems into the mix. Hold in the hand by the stems like you would a bouquet, and “shave” off the leaves, pointing the bundle downward as you do. Turn as needed until it’s clean. Some stem is okay, but you will get most of the leaves this way and quickly.
You can of course do it piece by piece, stripping the leaves but this will take a long time, and none of us usually has time.
Once you have nice pile on the cutting board, use a big chef’s knife and chop the mess. Periodically pile the outside to the center as the parsley chops up into nice bits. Use a rocking motion, guiding with the free hand on top of the blade at the end of the knife. You’ve seen this on TV no doubt.
If you are not a good hand chopper, throw it into a food processor and pulse it until the desired size. Be careful here, you don’t want puree, so just a second at a time.
Once it has reached the right chop size, place in a bowl. Now drizzle olive oil over it. You don’t need to submerge it, just enough to coat all of it. Pour a little, then stir and when it starts to really cling together, you have added enough.
Now take a pan of some sort, I small loaf pan, a 8 x 8 or something like that. Line with wax paper, and spoon your parsley into it. Spread it a bit and then add a layer of plastic wrap and then you can gently pat it out into a rectangle. Keep it somewhere around 1/4 inch thick.
Pop it into the freezer and leave until it’s frozen. Now the oil won’t freeze, but it will stiffen, and the water in the parsley will also harden it. Take out and score with a knife into what approximates 1 tablespoon. You can actually cut into cubes if you wish, but I leave it on the wax paper, and then pop it into a plastic bag.
When I need some fresh parsley, I just take a knife and cut through the size I need and return the rest to the freezer.
For Cilantro, do the same, but the stems here are much more tender and harder to shave, so don’t worry about removing so much stem.
This will work on basil and frankly, all fresh herbs that I can think of. Make sure that you label the freezer bag since there is a big difference between parsley and cilantro in taste, and once chopped and stored you won’t be able to tell the difference by looking!
Here’s my favorite homemade salsa recipe just cuz I love ya!
- 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (fresh of course is fine)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced (use a micro plane if you have it, and get one if you don’t, they are priceless for doing this fast!)
- 1/3 c of minced onion (more or less, diced fine or not as you like)
- 1 jalepeno pepper diced fine (I freeze these whole and just defrost and remove the seeds which turn brown anyway. Use more or less heat or other peppers as you like)
- Salt and pepper
- 1-2 Tbsps fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- juice of one lime (optional–it brightens everything, but you can get away without it. you can freeze lime juice in cubes too so it can be another item always on hand.)
Mix and let set for a couple of hours in the fridge before serving on your favorite Mexican dish.
We’re having a frittata today. That’s just eggs with whatever in it. We are having a pork sausage, onion, potato, asparagus, smoked Gruyere, parsley frittata. Cook everything separately, layer all starting with potatoes on the bottom, ending with the cheese. Whisk eggs (4-6) add 1 to 1 1/2 c milk and/or cream, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, pour on top, cook until set, then under the broiler to cook the top lightly. Add a salad and your set!