Michael Natkin has a recipe for a parsley salad in his cookbook and I’ve been thinking about it all week. We took up the leaves this weekend and, as our practice has been since my friend Sarah told us to, piled the lightweight ones from the maples on our three little raised beds.
To put the garden to bed for the winter we had to harvest all the parsley, the one thing that has stayed vibrant through the fall. For two days the armload Brian brought in has been on the counter with its stems in a tub, waiting to be pesto. I’ll try to do that before we have to give the Thanksgiving preparations our full attention. But honestly, I don’t know if it’s going to happen. It will help to turn a bunch of them into a salad with poached cranberries and the chestnuts that have been in the crisper drawer, also waiting.
Even after poaching them in a sweet liquid, the cranberries were awfully tart so I dusted them with cinnamon, which was better than I anticipated. If you have any maple sugar, that might appeal to a wider audience. For a dressing I made this mustard vinaigrette, minus the cranberry sauce. It’s quite nice, though I can imagine an array of dressings tasting fresh and marvelous.
If you poach the cranberries the night before and toast the hazelnuts, this will go together easily. Since roasted chestnuts are so good warm, I recommend roasting them while the rest of the salad comes together and popping them on top just before serving.
Parsley Salad with Poached Cranberries
½ cup fresh cranberries
¼ cup honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon orange zest
2 star anise pods
1 large bunch parsley, washed and dried with stems removed
2 large handfuls of chestnuts, roasted
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
any creamy mustard vinaigrette
Roast the chestnuts. I read once that if you slice them in half it makes it easier to check for mold and to peel them afterward. If you want pristine chestnuts, score the skin in the customary X.
Cover the bottom of a skillet with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil and add the honey, vinegar, zest, star anise, and a few pinches of salt. Taste and adjust ingredients to suit your preferences.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cranberries. Cook several minutes until most of the cranberries have not only split but softened slightly. They should not lose their shape. Scoop out with a strainer and dry on a dishtowel or paper towels.
When the cranberries have drained for a few minutes, toss in a small bowl with a dusting of cinnamon until they are coated. Reserve a few bright red ones for garnish.
Take the parsley leaves by handfuls and press together with a pinch of salt to soften their grassy texture. Repeat until all the parsley is softened.
Peel chestnuts and slice (or leave whole, if you prefer).
In a large bowl, toss parsley with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Arrange cranberries, chestnuts, and toasted hazelnuts on top and serve.