Poor, underrated parsley. Flat leaf Italian parsley is the epitome of freshness, delivering an assertive yet never aggressive burst of lemony, peppery, refreshing, herbaceous essence. I just love it, but it never gets enough attention. As delicious as basil is, he’s a little greedy about that spotlight, yes? Other herbs deserve a chance, and spring through early summer is a perfect time for 15 minutes of parsley fame. (Sage already had her turn last fall!)
You might’ve noticed I specifically called out flat leaf Italian parsley, and I did so with intention. In my humble opinion, there’s a night-and-day difference between Italian parsley and curly parsley. The latter is relatively flavorless and can dry out fairly quickly; it’s best kept as just a garnish, which is how it’s usually used. Flat leaf parsley packs much more of that bright flavor I mentioned.
A second thing you might notice about this recipe is that it calls for part extra virgin olive oil and part vegetable or canola oil. It’s tempting to just use all EVOO, like I did the first time I made this recipe, since it’s more flavorful and also more heart-healthy. When I made it that way, it was firm, clumpy, dry, and not very spreadable the next time I pulled the pesto from the fridge. This happened because olive oil firms up and turns solid when it’s cold. The added vegetable oil, which stays liquid when cold, resulted in a gorgeous, silky, smoother sauce.
5 lightly packed cups Italian flat leaf parsley w/ stems (about 2 bunches)
⅓ cup whole almonds
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 scallions, roughly chopped (optional)
1 clove peeled garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black or white pepper
⅓ cup EVOO
¼ cup canola oil
Add almonds, parsley, nutritional yeast or Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor.
Cover and blend ingredients together until completely broken down, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. When no large leaves or almond chunks remain, slowly drizzle in olive and canola oils while the machine is running. Continue blending until mix is smooth. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
This is SO good with fish or grilled chicken, on pasta, or coating veggies. Use it to make my Pesto Vinaigrette, or even just spread on a slice of toasted baguette. I predict you’ll keep finding excuses to eat it.
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