“Tell us once more,” we used to shout. So Dad would: the story of how he had a summer time job driving an ice-cream van round Manchester, and that was how he met our mum. Within the van he had packets of skinny, crisp wafers for making ice-cream sandwiches and, as a time-passing snack, he would begin at one nook and eat them with a racing-rabbit nibble, an irresistible picture and concept if you’re a child. And if you’re an grownup, too. I’m nonetheless hardwired to racing-rabbit nibble any wafer I contact, though the fancier the wafer, the much less satisfying it’s.
Virtually as satisfying is a parsley stem nibble. However it needs to be a fats, fleshy stem, and you must nibble laborious and quick, in any other case your tooth don’t reduce by way of the cellulose and also you ship an indented stem down your throat like a health care provider’s picket stick.
The opposite day, my son identified that my stems have been smelly. At first I had no concept what he was speaking about. Then I realised he was referring to the jar close to the sink containing an enormous bunch of flat-leaf parsley, its gangly stalks like teenage legs, that had been sitting in the identical water for thus lengthy, the water had turned yellow, smelly and dank. It did cross my thoughts to bin the whole thing, however then I remembered that smelly stems have a satisfying treatment: just a few seconds underneath a quick, chilly faucet, a fast trim and again into contemporary water ends in on the spot perkiness. If solely I may do the identical with myself, particularly in the intervening time once I can’t cease saying the identical weary expressions to everybody I meet: “suspended”, “caught”, “will we ever”, “at the least it’s spring”.
Racing-rabbit nibbles apart, parsley stems are such a very good ingredient – and, I’d argue, as invaluable, if no more so, than the leaves; their sweet-savoury, grassy, herbaceous flavour is highly effective and helpful. Conventional Roman cooking makes good use of parsley stems, notably chopped or pounded to a paste with cured pork fats, onion and celery for traditional battuto (which comes from the verb battere, “to strike”), which is then used as a basis for numerous soups and good-tasting stews.
You wouldn’t comprehend it from my jar neglect, however I adore it when parsley or, even higher, simply parsley stems are talked about as a principal ingredient, quite than a further herb or afterthought garnish. A good friend’s Easter frittata is a beautiful instance of this: 10 or 12 stems of parsley, ideally fats and fleshy, chopped finely (as with the racing-rabbit nibble, it’s essential they’re chopped finely, in any other case they are often stringy) after which softened with spring onions in extra-virgin olive oil. The parsley leaves are additionally used, together with numerous basil and mint, frilly fennel fronds (in case you have them) and only a little bit of pecorino.
I’m usually tempted so as to add extra cheese or one other vegetable to this frittata, however I’m at all times glad once I don’t. The herbs actually do stand out and their flavours shine, plus it additionally seems so good: hopeful inexperienced speckles suspended in yellow, for Easter breakfast or a sunny lunch.
Easter frittata with herbs, spring onion and pecorino
5 spring onions
1 small handful flat-leaved parsley
A number of mint sprigs
A number of basil sprigs
Fennel fronds (optionally available)
four tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan
Thinly slice the white and inexperienced components of the spring onion and the parsley stalks. Chop the parsley leaves, together with the mint and basil leaves, and fennel fronds (if utilizing), and put aside for later.
In a nonstick frying pan over a medium-low warmth, soften the onions and parsley stalks within the olive oil with a pinch of salt, till tender and translucent.
In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a bowl, then add the chopped herbs, cheese and a few salt and pepper, and whisk once more.
Scrape the tender onion into the egg and stir, then pour again into the frying pan, put again over a low warmth and prepare dinner gently till set. Elevate the sting to see it’s golden, then invert and prepare dinner till the opposite facet is golden, too.