Italian gremolata is most commonly used to add a final flourish to Milan’s Osso Buco, where it adds a fresh, zippy note to braised veal shanks.
Part condiment and part garnish, gremolata is a mixture of raw minced or grated garlic combined with parsley and lemon zest. Gremolata makes a wonderful spread for sandwiches and is a bright, pungent addition to grilled meats and fish. Sprinkled over any number of dishes, it will make every mouthful pop with its lively flavors.
It’s great with any roasted vegetable—think asparagus, brussels sprouts, zucchini, and eggplant—and makes pasta dishes come to life.
When mixed with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, gremolata makes a distinctive and easy salad dressing or marinade to flavor meat and fish. Add some oil to the gremolata and rub it over a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts before grilling. Slip some gremolata into your next batch of meatballs to add texture and a lively flavor. Use gremolata instead of parsley alone to boost risotto, grilled shrimp, sautéed spinach, or steamed green beans.
For an easy and delicious pasta dish: mix the gremolata in a large sauté pan (adding the zest of 1 orange, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of olive oil). Add 1 pound cooked and drained linguine to the pan and toss with the sauce. Serve with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Store gremolata in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Parsley-Lemon Gremolata
Adapted from A Mouthful of Stars by Kim Sunée, Andrews McMeel Publishing ($27.99).
Sunée writes, “La Boca Restaurant is one of my go-to places when I’m back in New Orleans. It is mostly all about the steak, but one night, Chef Jared Ralles sent out flash-fried Brussels sprouts. He had left them overnight in flour and the next day realized they had created their own batter, so he fried them up, and they are now a much-loved staple on the menu.”
This remarkable dish can be served as first course or as a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats. A big Argentine wine such as Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 ($19) with notes of ripe berries and tobacco would harmonize perfectly with a big juicy steak and the brussels sprouts.
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
Zest from 2 lemons (save lemon for another use)
Chop the parsley on a cutting board with a chef's knife until it is almost finely chopped. Using a Microplane or fine-toothed grater, grate the garlic cloves over the parsley. Using the same Microplane, grate the zest from the two lemons on top of the garlic. Continue to chop the parsley, mixing in the garlic and lemon as you go, until the parsley is chopped very fine. Don’t use a food processor or blender for this.
Yield: ¼ cup
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large red onion, cut into similar-size pieces as Brussels sprouts
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola or olive oil, for frying
Finishing salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon sea sa
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Blanch the brussels sprouts in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Place in the ice bath, then drain well and pat dry. If the Brussels sprouts are large, cut in half lengthwise.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, adding about 1 tablespoon water every 5 minutes, for a total of 15 to 20 minutes. Toss the onion in a bowl with the blanched Brussels sprouts; set aside.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the sprouts and onion mixture, tossing gently to combine and coat the vegetables. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
When ready to cook the sprouts, make the gremolata, and set aside.
Heat about ½ inch of canola or olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot to 350°F. Shake off any excess flour and flash-fry the Brussels sprouts and onion until crispy, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and lightly sprinkle with salt while hot. Top with the gremolata and Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve at once.
Serves 4 to 6