Make homemade gremolata with garden herbs

Make homemade gremolata with garden herbs to enrich and give more flavour to all your cooking; it's so quick and easy.

Herbs are in the main so easy to plant in pots or any sunny spot; many of them grow like weeks, and I'm not exaggerating. There is really no reason to pay a fortune for them at the supermarket. And by turning them into condiments like gremolata and pesto they can be readily frozen in small bottles for enjoyment through the whole year.

This is a Cyan Zone site; green issues for better health and blue ones that concern caring for the planet. It's also about making time for growing simple things and there is little easier than thyme, marjoram and sweet basil; parsley is a tad more difficult.

The traditional Italian gremolata is made with parsley, lemon rind and garlic; but you can use any herb that you have a glut of in your own green garden. And you can adapt it in any one of a hundred different ways to suit your own tastes and desires.

Today we are going to use cilantro, green coriander, simply because I have a glut in my garden; it grows like a weed.

How to make cilantro gremolata


  • Handful of fresh green cilantro
  • Zest of a lemon or lime
  • A few cloves of garlic

go for it

  1. Pick and wash the cilantro thoroughly; include the stalks.
  2. Carefully peel the zest off a lemon avoiding the pith.
  3. Top and tail the garlic.
  4. Using a heavy knife chop them all finely.
Cilantro gremolata ingredientsGremolata ingredients: green herb, lemon zest and garlic

Mix all your ingredients together and hey pesto you have your beautiful fresh gremolata; what could be easier?

I have deliberately included in the photo above a few leaves of a purple lettuce and a few chives; personalise the gremolata to your own liking. We could have used parsley or added a sweet red pepper; or even a fiery chili.

Speaking of pesto it's almost as simple with the addition of nuts and a hard cheese; it too can be frozen for use all year round when you have a glut of sweet basil in your garden. Like all vegetables they soon wilt and lose half of their goodness when bought from the shops; so easy and rewarding to grow.


Keep it simple is our motto and there's nothing wrong with a sharp knife for getting your lemon zest. But I have to add a microplane is an inexpensive little kitchen appliance that I wouldn't be without.

Just use it mindfully, as with all cooking, or you made find some of your skin planed into your gremolata.

Kitchen utensils favouritesA microplane is a useful kitchen utensil.

Two heresies

1. Lemon juice

The first is to declare in total contradiction of all the maestros and epicures that we almost never use lemon juice in our food. And why is that?

Nutritional researchers have shown that more than half of the good stuff in citrus is to be found in the pulp; the vitamin C, lemonin and beta-cryptoxanthin, for example.

We have found that using the pulp plus juice hardly makes any difference in appearance or taste; if anything it simply enhances all the reasons that good cooks use lemon juice so effusively. More important it more than doubles its proven effectiveness in preventing Alzheimer's disease and a host of other conditions.

2. Don't bother with peeling the garlic

I got to consider recently why I was so reluctant to use garlic, one of my favourite herbs. I realised that it was because peeling was such a chore; so now I don't and not one person has noticed.

Rumour has it, probably fake news, that in the East garlic is grown in human faeces. I only use that from a known source.

Cilantro lemon zest and garlicGreen herb, lemon zest and garlic.

Many coloured foods

There is strong research that those enjoying many coloured foods on a daily basis have a 33% lower all-cause of death. That's massive and reason enough for being more adventurous in the kitchen. In any case condiments like this taste so good and will enhance almost any dish.

Phytonutrients like folate, limonin and the allicin in garlic are more readily absorbed in the presence of fats; so we often will take our homemade gremolata a step further.

Gremolata in olive oil

It makes good sense to routinely preserve your homemade gremolata in olive oil; and whilst you are about it, since it goes so well with a salad, add half a chopped lemon or lime.

The good wife like to spoon to it over her potato salad, beef stroganoff or pork eisbein.

It's all about adding more coloured foods to your meals; and making them zestful and interesting.

Caring for the mortal frame

Most of us clearly think we are going to live happily ever after into our nineties, with no attention to detail; and then are indignant when we get an aneurism in the brain or prostate cancer.

Personally like St Francis of Assisi I find that Brother Ass is very stubborn rogue; and needs to be chastised regularly. In the practice it is very evident that he turns around and bites us if we feed him on craparola or neglect to take him out for exercise.

Homemade gremolata on Eggs HiltonHomemade gremolata sprinkled on Eggs Hilton.

Eggs Hilton is one of our favourite breakfasts; it's basically a sort of shakshuka with whatever is growing in the garden. Today it's baby kale and spinach leaves; with peppadews and chaote squash. Often there would be half a dozen broad or lima beans in season; or green peas.

I've sprinkled a little homemade gremolata on our breakfast this morning; it's not to be seen but it gives a delightful citrusy flavour.

Keep it simple is our motto. No fast food ever tasted as good as this; with none of the flavour enhancers needed to dicky up processed meals from which much of the goodness has been extracted.

Blue zone longevity

We are doing our level best to imitate the lifestyle of those folk in the Blue Zones of the world; there are only five of them. Ten times as many people live to strong and zestful nineties. One in a thousand reach their century; it's amazing.

We credit the lifestyle of these interesting people for neither of us in our mid-seventies taking any medication; well, I did have an ear infection after a foolishness about three months ago.

And my blood-pressure last week when I went for an annual checkup was 120/83. It doesn't get better than that.

We have enough energy to go at life, hammer and tongs every day. This morning it was the chainsaw on a heavy trunk that came down in the garden; firewood for the next year.

Make homemade gremolata with garden herbs; it's just one of hundreds of interests. Tomorrow I'll be robbing the bees; oops, harvesting the honey. Would a rose smell any different if we gave it another name?

In truth there is a symbiotic relationship between the bee and her keepers. We give her a nice warm, dry home and in a dearth when she's hungry we feed her; when she makes a big surplus during a bumper season we enjoy natural honeycomb.

Decapping trough

Make homemade gremolata with garden herbs

Make homemade gremolata with garden herbs when you have a glut of parsley, cilantro or sweet basil.


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, the family and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

Here are the back issues.

  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa