Chosen Bites: Fall for great garnishes

Gremolata can be sprinkled on vegetables, soups, stews, braised meats and any dish that needs a little oomph.

Gremolata brightens each bite of the rich meat and prepares  (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Gremolata brightens each bite of the rich meat and prepares
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Fall for great garnishes I love fall flavors. The warm, toasty spices and fragrant herbs paired with gorgeous squashes and the deep rich flavors of slow braised meats make me ravenous.
My staff in my kitchen and my family make fun of me because I take my garnishes very seriously. Sometimes, my garnishes have garnishes. I think a garnish can take a so-so dish and turn it into something extraordinary.
I like add a bit of “fall” to my garnishes too. A great way to add flavor and seasonality to a dish is to add Gremolata. Gremolata is an herb condiment that is typically served with OssoBuco. The classic gremolata is a sparkly flavored mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest. The gremolata brightens each bite of the rich meat and prepares your palate for another delicious bite.
I have taken the flavors of gremolata and changed it up a bit for fall. My gremolata can be sprinkled on vegetables, soups, stews, braised meats and any dish that needs a little oomph.

Pumpkin seed gremolata
2 cups of shelled pumpkin seeds
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
4 garlic cloves Juice and zest of
2 oranges Juice and zest of
1 lemon Pinch of crushed red chilies
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup of best quality extra virgin olive oil

1. Place a dry medium sauté pan, with the pumpkin seeds, over medium heat. Toast the seeds, stirring occasionally, until they begin to pop (about three minutes). Transfer the seeds to a bowl to cool.
2. Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until they resemble a coarse paste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
The gremolata will keep, covered in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Roasted butternut squash with pumpkin seed gremolata
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 176 C Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Toss the squash in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper
2. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized (about 25-35 minutes).
3. Transfer the squash to a platter or bowl and sprinkle the gremolata on it. Garnish (again) with pomegranate seeds and fried sage leaves

Fried sage
Something very special happens when herbs are fried. The natural oils in the herbs become toasted and fragrant and the water is cooked out which deepens the flavors.
Extra virgin olive oil Fresh sage leaves
1. Heat ¼ inch of oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat.
 2. When the oil is hot (176 C) add the leaves and fry until very crispy (about 20 seconds).
3. Transfer the leaves to a plate lined with paper towels.
4. Use the fried sage to garnish squash dishes, turkey, fall pasta dishes and soups. Use the oil for sauté with or to make vinaigrettes.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.