Excuse me but……..this just looks like a bowl of chopped salad vegetables.
Pretty lame that I would for one sliver of a second think that anyone would need to look at and glean anything from a post about a couple of chopped tomatoes, cucumber and avocado……which is pretty much what this is. Hmmm, okay. Thanks for sharing, Nichole, I’ll get right on that, like I never chopped a freaking tomato before. This was oh, so informative, yeh, buh-bye now. click
But please stay with me! And look a little closer. That evergreen mound of confetti you see scattered over the pile of veggies just waiting to be tossed together is the magic ingredient, the namesake of this recipe, and my newest flavor obsession: Gremolota. And this stuff, with all of its’ fresh, springy piquancy, is going to wake up your taste buds and make them DANCE!
So, gremolota is a chopped herb condiment classically made from lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to braised dishes like Milanese Osso Buco and lamb stew, where it adds a bright zippy note to cut through the fatty richness. But I say, why limit its light and citrusy pop of punchiness to only meaty preparations? Lets put it in a salad………
And this is all you need to make that happen. Well, that plus a big sharp knife and a microplane.
Start by zesting your lemon. Now if it is at all possible, use an organic lemon here for obvious reasons: you’re using the outside part of the thing! This is where a microplane comes in very handy, so if you don’t have one, now’s the time to invest (about ten bucks, so an excellent one at that). You can always use the finest side of any cheese grater, you just may need to give it a little more chop time. Make sure not to go too deep into the lemon rind when you zest; you just want the very brightly colored, lemon zestiness, not the white bitter pith underneath. Ahhh, just the smell of it will lift your mood.
Breathe deep. And hang on to that neked lemon because you’re going to be using the juice.
Roughly knife through a hand full of fresh parsley and then “chop in” one clove of garlic. Sprinkle that with a healthy pinch of coarse kosher salt and continue to chop away. The salt will act as an abrasive to help break down the garlic and the parsley. Add in the lemon zest and keep on choppin until you achieve a fine, almost slightly flakey, incorporated texture. Won’t take you but a minute…
Now can you use a food processor for this? Well, sure. But it’s not the same. And you just gave yourself more to clean! What good is that? Let’s just keep it simple, k?
Gathering your salad ingredients, dice an English cucumber, a couple of tomatoes (Roma tomatoes are great this time of year if you can’t find decent salad tomatoes) and one beautifully ripe avocado. Keeping everybody uniform in size just looks pretty……so do it! Into a bowl they go and squeeze the juice of your zested lemon up all over everybody. Plop that green gremolota on top and give this a gentle toss and you will have…
Money. No oil, no vinegar. No need. This gremolota business is booming all on its own.
Brilliant on nearly everything, from any baked or grilled protein to pasta to creamy bean dishes to any vegetable, raw or cooked, gremolota brings an assertive note to just about anything that could use a flavor bomb. Move over Sriracha, this may be the long lost condiment you didn’t even know you were missing out on.
This easily makes enough for four, but constraints do exist here as this salad goes from assertive to down right aggressive overnight in the fridge, so I can’t say that I advise it for leftovers. The actual gremolata on its own can be chopped and stored in an airtight container for up to a day, any longer than that and it gets very strong and downright angry.
- For the Salad
- 1 English cucumber, peeled (optional, although I like to peel mine) and chopped
- 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped**
- For the Gremolota
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 clove of fresh garlic *, roughly chopped
- 1 small bunch of parsley washed and dried (enough to make a very loosely packed cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest the lemon, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado, squeeze the juice of the zested lemon down into the veggies. Set aside.
- Roughly chop the parsley, add the garlic and salt and continue chopping until the garlic becomes fine and begins to incorporate into the parsley.
- Add the lemon zest and continue chopping until it is all a very fine chop.
- Add the gremolota to the veggies and gently toss everything together.
- Serve it up and feel good about yourself!
- * make sure you are not using old garlic for this!
- ** the creamy fattiness of the avocado negates a need for any oil in this salad. If you want to leave the avocado out (I will just have to look away) drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil to make up for the lack.