Edible Monterey Bay

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Parsley+Fig Brings Salads To Life

February 2, 2021 – Pure and flavorful. Those are the guiding principles for Petrina Pinto’s Parsley+Fig, a suite of salad dressings popular among local Instagram foodies and soon to be available to a wider audience at local farmers markets.

Petrina Pinto, founder-chef of Parsley+Fig (photo: Joelle Pinto, Allora.ca)

Parsley+Fig reflects a recipe of heritage, hospitality and health. “Food is an expression of someone’s culture and someone’s love. It’s a powerful tool that connects us all,” explains Pinto. “That’s why I got into food products—dressings and finished foods—to create an experience with good food to share with others or just for ourselves.”

Pinto is a lifelong lover of food. “Growing up, I didn’t watch cartoons, I watched the Food Network,” she recalls. Her childhood career goals were to be a Ben & Jerry’s taste tester and as a teen, while her friends went shopping for clothes, she’d peruse the shelves at Williams Sonoma. She credits her love for food to growing up in an Italian family and watching my mom and nonna in the kitchen.

The traditional foodways of Europe proved to be a major inspiration for Pinto, whose family’s roots are in the small coastal fishing town of San Vito Lo Capo, on Sicily’s northwestern coast. The Parsley+Fig name in fact honors Pinto’s heritage by celebrating two ingredients that are huge commodities in Sicily. (It’s also a subtle nod to Pinto herself, bearing the initials of her first and middle names, Petrina Francesca.)

In addition to her avid home cooking with family, Pinto has worked in the culinary and hospitality sectors while in college in San Luis Obispo and locally—at the shuttered Good To Go juice bar, Il Tegamino and Alvarado Street Brewery.

Five flavor combinations make up the Parsley+Fig product line (photo: Joelle Pinto, Allora.ca)

Pinto had long dreamed of owning a farm-to-fork product line, but the debut of her Parsley+Fig brand came about rather unexpectedly during the pandemic. She studied ag business at Cal Poly and graduated in March 2020. The pandemic derailed plans for an internship in New York, and she found herself returning home to Monterey and job hunting.

She grew restless and late one night bolted awake with the realization, “Just do it!” She took a leap of faith and launched Parsley+Fig last September. 

Parsley+Fig goes back to basics. “Food should have recognizable ingredients and nourish our bodies without compromising on flavor,” explains Pinto.

As a holistic health coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Pinto pays attention to ingredients. When she saw many salad dressings contain artificial ingredients she felt uncomfortable serving to herself or her family, she recognized there was a gap in the market and an opportunity to introduce local palates to pure and flavorful salad dressings made without refined sugar, low-quality oils, additives or artificial preservatives. And she was right—in just three days she had 65 orders—a sign there was an appetite for handcrafted and thoughtfully sourced salad dressings.

Pinto fulfilled the first few orders from her home kitchen, then moved to a commercial kitchen and has been on a roll ever since. Now, Pinto is operating out of the commissary kitchen at Monterey’s The Shop alongside other food artisans like Little Luna Cheese Boards, Miss Lippe’s Dumpling Party and more.

Parsley+Fig has five staple dressings—the velvety and tangy Grazia balsamic vinaigrette; the bright and zesty Salud Champagne vinaigrette; the sweet and smooth Sole honey mustard vinaigrette; the fresh and herbal Terra herb vinaigrette; and the rich and nutty Pisto (pronounced “pee-sto”) pesto vinaigrette. There’s also a seasonal selection—the vibrant and comforting Forno roasted tomato vinaigrette available during summer and fall.

Grazia balsamic vinaigrette was her first dressing (photo: Joelle Pinto, Allora.ca)

Pinto admits Grazia is her favorite. “It was the one that started it all and it’s so versatile too,” she says, adding how she puts it on salads, of course, but also uses it as a sandwich spread, on top of avocado toast, on roasted veggies, on pizza and as a dip for bread. 

While originally conceived as dressings, her vinaigrettes can do double duty as marinades, dips, pasta sauces and much more. “I love when people use their own creativity with the product given to them, not cookiecuttered into ‘this is what you have to use it for.’” She notes how pairing two dressings together also bursts with new flavors.

All of Parsley+Fig’s dressings are made with locally-sourced ingredients. “We have such fruitful land and we’re blessed to have an abundance of agriculture at our fingertips,” she explains. “I want to celebrate the farmers in our own backyard.” Pinto shops the farmers markets every week to find fresh herbs for Parsley+Fig’s signatures. “I enjoy meeting the farmers, seeing them face to face to build that community connection.”

The dressings leverage high-quality oils, including California extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. They’re sweetened with honey from Amen’s Bees in San Martin. Revealing her training in holistic health, she points out the health benefits of these oils and natural sweeteners as opposed to the conventional choices in most commercial dressings. (Because the Parsley+Fig dressings use the freshest ingredients, they’re best kept chilled to preserve their shelf life.)

Already, she’s teamed with local CSAs—including Hall’s Organic Farms and Royal Oaks Produce Delivery—to add Parsley+Fig products to their box delivery.

Now, Pinto will bring a taste of Parsley+Fig to local farmers markets, making her debut at the Carmel farmers market this week.

The new farmers market booth will offer a taste of Parsley+Fig with petite 1.5-ounce jars of the five flavors for sale. Mix and match a trio of dressings or buy a flight of all five. Pinto will also unveil Parsley+Fig’s new menu of prepared foods—salads, sandwiches and wraps—that demonstrate the versatility of the dressings.

Pinto recalls how salads are staples for her family gatherings. “My family was in charge of salads for family events and while I was away at college, I made salads for my makeshift family there too.” She’s thoughtful and methodical in crafting a salad, considering the balance of flavors and textures. Over the years, she’s perfected signature salads she’s now ready to share.

One of Pinto’s signature salads (photo: Joelle Pinto, Allora.ca)

Pinto’s star salad? Her Grazia garden salad, featuring mixed greens, roasted beets, carrots, tomatoes, goat cheese and pistachios tossed in Grazia balsamic vinaigrette. “I’ve been making it for years now. Those ingredients marry so well in my opinion.”

The menu for Thursday’s farmers market debut also includes a kale salad with Sole honey mustard vinaigrette and a citrus salad with Salud Champagne vinaigrette. There will also be a turkey sandwich with Pisto vinaigrette and a veggie wrap with Terra herb vinaigrette. Pre-order salads and sandwiches here for pickup (and payment) at the farmers market.

Once she gets settled with the new booth at the Carmel farmers market, Pinto hopes to bring Parsley+Fig to other local markets and eventually team with local grocery stores and restaurants to offer the products too. She’s excited to introduce more locals to Parsley+Fig and help them forge lasting memories around food and community just as she has. 

Parsley+Fig • Available at local farmers markets and for pickup in Monterey • parsleyandfig.com • For details on weekly flash sales, upcoming farmers market appearances and recipe tips, follow @parsleyandfig on Instagram

About the author

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Raúl Nava (he/him/él) is a freelance writer covering dining and restaurants across the Central Coast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @offthemenu831.