Secret Boot: A Cooking Tip

A secret boot? I’m pulling your leg!  This is the literal translation for “botte secrète” in French; “une botte secrète” is a secret asset.

You may be thinking of my stunning physique. Unfortunately  my own not so secret asset is currently unavailable. I am sitting on it.

Persillade is one of the “botte secrète”of French cooking . This mixture of parsley and garlic jazzes up many dishes. It provides this extra something that will make all the difference, and we use it profusely.

Persillade is made with a big bunch of parsley (the curly leafed type) and 8 to 12 garlic cloves. Peeled, of course. Chop  finely to bring out the taste. Because it is unlikely you are going to use all of it for one dish, my advice is to put  the rest in a small glass jar and store it in  the freezer. Then next time you need to enliven your cuisine, just spoon out the right quantity. A sprinkle for a sparkle!

Parsley is widely used around the world. Mostly for cooking purposes. Although, for some reason, ‘avoir du persil dans les oreilles’ (to have parsley in one’s ears) means “having blocked ears”, suggesting that we zee French like to endulge in funky body art. The herb is packed with vitamin C, its leaves contain far more per 100 g than lemon or kiwi fruit. Garlic, a distant cousin of the onion,  is notoriously favoured by us Gallic folks. My theory is it is for skewing breathalyzer tests. Whether the smell accounts for the aphrodisiac reputation of the French kiss, a proper lady like me wouldn’t know. This maladorous little bulb is very healthy. It has antiseptic and antifungal properties, yet thankfully few of us consume enough of it to fully benefit.

So how, you may rightfully ask (yes, I said it again) do you use persillade?

Persillade can be sprinkled on cold foods. My favourite is on tomato salad, with  French dressing… it is so tasty! I also sprinkle it on cold or warm  baked aubergines (eggplants for American readers), add a dab of balsamic vinegar, and some feta cheese. Persillade  will bring out the flavour of green beans or cauliflower, either in a salad or served as a side vegetable.  In the Provence, Persillade is mixed with breadcrumbs and sprinkled on baked tomatoes (tomates à la provençale) about 10 or 15 mn before they are done. It is key not to burn the garlic, as it would give off a terrible, bitter taste, spoiling your culinary enterprise. Lastly, you can add persillade to a stew or even to your pasta. Even nicer with some white wine in the sauce. And down your throat too!

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