We're now heading toward the far side of summer and it's finally starting to get hot around here. Not that I'm delighted by the prospect of sweating, but it's nice to know that now perhaps my luscious little grape tomatoes will start getting ripe en masse instead of two or three at a time. In the meantime, I'm making daily trips to the garden to see what is coming to fruition, and it's fairly slim pickings. Lots of mint, lots of chives, not much else.
But the tomato plants are loaded with tiny green globes of potential, and my parsley and basil are actually prospering, for the first time ever, having managed thus far to resist the advances of herb-craving gastropods.
And that's mighty good news because having a large supply of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley means that I've got my own wellspring of gremolata, and that helps me forgot a whole heap of woes ~ slugs, sluggish tomatoes, and even 90-degree weather with humidity measured in matching digits.
So, what exactly is gremolata? Essentially, it's a fresh herb seasoning traditionally used in Italian cuisine as a finishing condiment for osso bucco. Gremolata is excellent sprinkled over any kind of roasted meat or poultry, soup, or stew. It's very low in fat and adds a bright, citrusy flavor without contributing significant calories.
One of my favorite ways to eat gremolata ~ and trust me, there are many of them ~ is in this hors d'oeuvre (or amuse bouche, depending on how you'd like to serve it): Stuffed Black Olives with Gremolata. I used slivers of quartered pearlini to stuff my olives here, but feel free to use whatever cheese makes you happy (and complements the olives and gremolata without stealing the show). You won't want to make this very far in advance ~ the cheese tends to break down and you will probably be tempted to eat all the olives before the actual dish gets served. It comes together so quickly, though, you won't need to worry about much advance prep. Go ahead and chop your parsley and zest your lemon, but save the rest of the assembly for no more than 30 minutes before serving time.
Delicious with a glass of wine and a fresh baguette!
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups pitted black olives
- 1/4 cup pearlini, quartered, or other mild cheese to fill olives
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To make gremolata: In a small bowl, combine parsley, lemon zest, and garlic; toss to combine and set aside.
Stuff each olive with a sliver of cheese. Place olives in a medium mixing bowl, sprinkle with gremolata, and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and toss again. Serve immediately or chill for up to 30 minutes.
Makes about 2 cups