Gremolata is a condiment made from finely minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest. It's great because it adds brightness and aromatics to dishes like braised meats that might otherwise be a bit heavy or one-note.
It's traditionally served with veal, especially the classic braised veal dish osso buco. But it'll also go well with lamb (you could substitute mint for the parsley), and it's an excellent accompaniment for fish and seafood dishes.
And with the addition of a glug of good olive oil, it's also a terrific marinade. Or, with the olive oil and a splash of flavored vinegar, you've got a lovely and refreshing salad dressing.
The parsley and garlic need to be chopped pretty finely, and all this chopping can be a chore. You might be tempted to toss all the ingredients in a food processor and call it a day, but that wouldn't be a good idea.
For one thing, if you've ever tried to chop parsley in a food processor, you know that, instead of chopping it, it turns your parsley into a wet, stringy mess. For another thing, the food processor really rips up the garlic, causing it to release sulfur-based compounds that produce intense heat and a bitter flavor. Which means your gremolata will have a pungent, acrid flavor.
A good way to mince the garlic, instead of using a knife, is to peel the cloves and then mash them with the tines of a fork. First mash them one way, and then turn the fork 90 degrees and mash the other way. Sort of like the way you might make peanut butter cookies.
For the parsley, though, you're going to have to stick with a knife.
You'll notice that gremolata is a lot like pesto, and just as there are variations of pesto, you can get creative with your gremolata as well. Try substituting different greens for the parsley — like basil, cilantro, mint, or spinach. Some chopped scallions, ground peanuts, or even fresh horseradish can kick it up in different ways.
But don't worry if you're not feeling adventuous. The beauty of the classic gremolata is that the simple trio of parsley, garlic and lemon combine to produce something very special.
- 1 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 lemon
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Wash and thoroughly dry the parsley.
- Remove the leaves and finely mince until you have about 2 tablespoons worth.
- Finely mince the garlic.
- Use a lemon zester to remove about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper. You can pound the ingredients together with a mortal and pestle or just use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass.
Makes about 3 tablespoons, or enough to garnish 6 servings of fish or veal.