If you tend to hear the word "salad" and immediately get stuck on the idea of a bowl of lettuce, then let this lemony and delicious arugula parsley salad be your gateway into the flexible and fabulous world of herb salads.
Lettuces and herbs are all leaves, so why don't we eat more parsley salads?
If you're lucky enough to live in an agricultural and culinary epicenter like the Bay Area, you might have a different relationship with lettuce than the rest of us. Tender and flavorful little gems, tart purslane, 4 different types of cress... I remember that leafy luxury! In big-box stores, too, not just at a farmers markets. Most stores, however, are limited to the stalwart and generic pillars of lettuce: romaine, iceberg, green loose-leaf (red leaf if you're lucky), butterhead, and maybe frisee or endive. There are often pre-washed boxes of baby greens, like spinach and arugula, but while they do offer a bit more variety they often already have a brown and slimy center. All of these do have their place, but it's easy to fall into a salad rut.
This parsley-based salad makes an excellent (and quick!) addition to a brunch spread, alongside a Spanish tortilla, quiche, or frittata. It would also pair well as a refreshing balance for anything off the grill-- skewers, burgers, you name it.
You can transform your salad routine by putting fresh herbs in the spotlight!
Here's a common refrain in my house: "Oops, I grabbed another bunch of parsley--I didn't realize we still had half a bunch left!" Rather than let it go to waste, since most recipes end up using only a few chopped tablespoons at a time, put it in a salad! Even better, turn it into the main event of a salad!
Parsley has a vibrant, herbacious flavor-- very GREEN, with a bit of a salty-citrus undertone. It's tender, but sturdy enough to hold up to bold dressings. And more often than not, the stems closest to the leaves are also quite tender, so you can use the whole sprig instead of laboriously plucking each single leaf.
Notes for Success:
Wash your parsley, wash your parsley, wash your parsley. Most of the time, a bunch from the grocery store will look pretty clean, especially compared to heads of lettuce that can have obvious caked on mud at their base. But nothing ruins a meal like surprise fine, sandy grit in your salad.
Don't skip toasting your nuts and seeds. Toasting wakes up the flavorful oils and makes the texture tender and crunchy instead of hard and dense.
Feel free to try other crunchy elements, too, such as pecans or crushed pita chips.
If you're not in a citrus mood, try a wine vinegar instead. Sherry vinegar, in particular, is my go-to for transitioning the salad from warm to cold weather.
Essential Recipe: Lemony Arugula-Parsley Salad with Toasted Seeds
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon, About 3 tablespoon juice
- 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- Kosher salt
- 4 small scallions, thinly sliced, whites and green parts separated
- 1 bunch parsley, leaves left in small sprigs, About 2 cups lightly packed
- 2 cups baby arugula, About 1½ ounces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped soft herbs, Dill, mint, basil, cilantro, or tarragon; Choose based on the flavors of the rest of your meal
- 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- In a large bowl, stir together the lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, a generous pinch of salt, and the scallion whites. Let sit at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes, while the scallion mellows and infuses the dressing with its flavor.Add the remaining ingredients and toss to evenly coat with the dressing. Serve immediately.