Picture this: Jason at (roughly) 8 years old or so.
Hair: styled with neon-green gel brought to you by LA Looks. (Slicked back, of course).
Clothing: Most likely a shirt-and-short set by the couture House of Bugle Boy. (If it were a special occasion, it would be a silk shirt from Burlington Coat Factory and pleated khakis from Hills or Ames).
Accessories: The “look” would not be complete without the quintessential leopard print snap bracelet and all-too-cool Reebok pump high tops. (If it were a special occasion, the silk shirt and khakis would be paired with the pricier LA Gear sneakers that lit up when you rested your heel on the ground.)
The Soundtrack: Genesis or Phantom of the Opera (playing proudly and loudly through walkman headphones).
Now picture this epitome of style sitting in the backseat of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (completely devoid of air conditioning, a working radio or muffler)
screaming insisting begging asking nicely to be taken to The Ground Round for dinner. For Jason, The Ground Round was so much more than a pay-by-the-pound pork chop dinner. It was even more than the bottomless bowl of popcorn or back-to-back Betty Boop cartoons.
It was where he discovered parsley.
The Ground Round had a penchant for trying to be more fancy than it was and to accomplish this, they plopped a bouquet of parsley in the white space beside the baked potato and pork chop as if to say, “Hey, parents! We could have offered your kid a second side dish to fill this space, but since we are only charging you 62 cents for this meal, you’ll get a garnish instead.”
Jason would stare quizzically at the mound of stiff greens.
“It’s a garnish, darling. No one is supposed to eat it,” said a wise relative who watched as the young and awkward Jason stared longingly and curiously at the questionably fresh plant. It was sad to think that it served no purpose.
It was an impossible thought, to have something on the plate that wasn’t edible. It was almost insulting. There was no way young Jason could let this go to waste. So it was decided. That night, it wouldn’t. In an uncharacteristically bold and confident move, the young man brought the parsley to his mouth and devoured the entire stem.
From that moment on, parsley was more than just a garnish that wasn’t supposed to be eaten. It had a distinct taste that wasn’t horrible, but just needed a meaningful relationship.
The short of it: parsley is misunderstood. Parsley is unappreciated. Parsley developed a complex from all this hate. Be nice to parsley. So make this quick little treat and make some parsley’s dreams come true (ps, thanks shutterbean!):
1 loaf of ciabatta bread or French baguette
12 cloves of garlic
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1-2 lbs of cooked shrimp
1 bunch of fresh parsley
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes
Now when you go to the grocery store, please note that 12 cloves of garlic does not mean that you need to buy twelve bulbs of garlic. Oh no! Two should do it. After all, it’s what is on the inside that counts and you will get more than 12 from two bulbs.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. This is by far the hottest we ever asked our oven to get and we weren’t sure how she would react. She did not explode. This doesn’t mean that yours won’t.
Meanwhile, smash up 8 of your garlic cloves and sauté them in olive oil. They should get all nice and brown and look like this. DON’T burn them. Burnt garlic is yucky.
Scoop them out once they are brown (but keep the oil in the pan, so use a spoon with holes) and transfer them into the food processor. They will take a tumble in here with a handful of parsley until blended. Remove ¼ cup of the mixture and set it aside. We’d recommend adding some scallions or red onions to add a little spice.
Then add the ricotta and parmesan cheese to the processor. Ricotta cheese is an interesting substance. Not quite cheese and not quite yogurt. It’s a cheesegurt.
Meanwhile, back in the pan of oil, you should mince your remaining garlic and add the red pepper flakes.. Cook for a little while until the garlic browns and then add shrimp. If you buy cooked shrimp like we did, it goes much faster. Once the shrimp is warm, add the ¼ cup of parsley mixture that you set aside and stir.
Turn your attention to the lovely loaf of ciabatta bread.
Cut it in half length wise and then cut in half again, leaving you with four nice sized pizza crusts. Spread the cheesegurt onto the bread and top with the shrimp. Sprinkle a little more parmesan on top. Bake in your exceedingly-warm-almost-dangerously-hot-oven for 20 minutes until the bread is crunchy.
To enjoy to the fullest extent, step into your LA Gear light up sneakers, slick your hair back, turn on some vintage Betty Boop to make up for lost time.
You owe it to parsley.