Parsley and garlic are essential components in so many recipes. When the two are finely chopped together, they become persillade, a powerful mixture that brings enormous flavor to a dish when added just at the very end of the cooking process.
Persillade is the key flavor agent in the classic bistro side dish Pommes Persillade (Potatoes with Parsley and Garlic), which I first learned to make many years ago watching Jacques Pépin's old television series Today's Gourmet. The potatoes are featured in Jacques Pépin’s Table, a collection of recipes from Today’s Gourmet (the recipe can be found through an Amazon "search inside the book").
The recipe calls for cutting two peeled russet potatoes into small cubes and sautéing them over high heat until they are browned and crisp on all sides, yet soft in the center. Because the potatoes are cooked in only two tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil instead of the canola oil in the recipe), they are relatively light. The minced parsley/garlic mixture, almost resembling a paste, is added to the potatoes, along with salt and pepper, just at the end of the cooking process so that the dish retains the freshness of the parsley, yet the tiny pieces of garlic cook just enough (without browning) to take away the rough edge that garlic has in its raw state.
There would seem to be endless improvisations on the basic persillade, from the addition of lemon zest or anchovies to varying the herbs, substituting tarragon or thyme, for example, for parsley.
I got to thinking about this idea and experimented by combining the traditional persillade with lemon zest and chile flakes. I quickly sautéed calamari over high heat and then added the modified persillade to the pan, with salt and pepper, cooking everything together briefly before finally adding a squeeze of lemon and serving. The result was a success, bright and sharp from the parsley and garlic, with the tangy flavor of lemon and just a hint of heat from the chile flakes.
POTENT PERSILLADE Classic Pommes Persillade (below) and an improvisation, Calamari with Parsley, Garlic, Lemon, and Chile (bottom).