Just the other day, I came across the phrase “deliziosamente verde” which translates to “deliciously green” and describes my appreciation for spring perfectly. Spring always makes me think of all those “deliciously green” things like fresh herbs growing near my kitchen window, classic Italian green sauces, yummy grilled salads, big juicy artichokes, and beautiful olive trees.
Thankfully, I finally understand my mom’s obsession with parsley. After years of chopping it, watching her add it to many of our family dishes and giggling as she bit into it to freshen her breath, I am happy to say that I totally get it. (Grazie, Mamma!) And even better, Bert and the boys love it just as much as I do. Here are three different recipes incorporating parsley and other herbs that will brighten up any spring dinner.“Deliciously Green” basket of fresh herbs
Spaghetti Prezzemolo, Aglio e Olio
Although this Italian classic is usually called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, spaghetti with garlic and oil, I have added “prezzemolo” to the name because to me, the parsley (prezzemolo in Italian) is just as important. I love Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe because he addresses the importance of adding pasta water to the sauce and completing the cooking process of the pasta in that sauce. This technique is something I try to do whenever I make pasta; it makes such a difference. I add a couple more cloves of garlic and a bit more parsley than is listed; I also add a little sprinkle of chopped parsley, along with a drizzle of olive oil, right before serving.
A couple of years ago, on a family road trip to San Francisco, we happened upon the coolest bookstore tucked away in a charming little neighborhood. It was there that I found what would become my favorite cookbook, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. It had me at the title and the next day, on our long eight hour drive home, I read the cookbook from cover to cover. Never had I felt so connected to a cookbook. It was filled with advice, encouragement, tips and a simple approach to food and cooking that spoke to my roots. One of my favorite lessons from that book is on the classic Italian green sauce, Salsa Verde. We love it on any grilled meat (but especially on steak), on grilled veggies, mixed in with our couscous, and even on our sandwiches. Each batch is a little different, which makes it even more fun. If I don’t have garlic, I use shallots… or if I am out of capers, I chop up some Castelvetrano olives and use that instead. The only must for me is a lot of fresh flat leaf parsley.
As Alice Waters mentions in her recipe, “other herbs or combinations of herbs can be used” so here is a version with a base of rosemary and thyme that our family enjoys too. It’s called Salmoriglio and this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis is so tasty!
Grilled Gem Salad
I just about love anything grilled, and lettuce is no exception. The other day, some baby gem lettuces caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to get home and make grilled salad for dinner. It’s so easy and doesn’t require much. I just cut each head of lettuce in half (or fourths would work too) and brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil on them. I season with some kosher salt and then grill each side on a grill pan. Then I drizzle a little more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over the top and season a tad more with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Need a good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic? Try our olive oil and vinegar gift set, Condire, which can be found in La Bottega.)
This Bible verse paints such a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and the beauty that can come from trusting in His plans for us.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
– Psalm 52:8
And last, but not least, I want to share with you my…
I recently started following an instagrammer from Napoli, @giovdor. She is able to capture so much of Napoli’s richness and beauty in each of her posts. Grazie @giovdor for bringing me home, even though I am miles away.
“Deliziosamente verde”, deliciously green…
And her lovely thoughts on coffee…
Il caffè non è solo una bevanda, il caffè è una scusa, un motivo. La scusa per fermarsi un attimo, da soli o in compagnia. Per riflettere, per prendere forza. Il caffè ti tiene compagnia mentre studi, mentre lavori. È una scusa per parlare con qualcuno che ci sta a cuore. La scusa per passare un po’ di tempo con la persona che ci interessa. La possibilità dire “mi piace stare con te” senza usare le parole. Coffee is not just a drink, coffee for the Neapolitans is an excuse, a reason. The excuse to stop for a moment, alone or in company. To reflect, to gain strength. The coffee keeps you company while you study, as you work. It is an excuse to talk to someone who is important to us. The excuse to spend some ‘quality time with the person who interests us. A chance to say I like to be with you without words.