Beautiful, easy to grow and delicious, parsley is probably the most well-known and most popular of all herbs in the United States. Three of the 40 varieties are most widely used:
flat leaf or Italian parsley (P. neopolitanum) with delicate dark green saw-toothed leaves which have superior flavor and more nutrients for use in bouquet garni and other culinary applications and Hamburg or Soup parsley (P. tuberosum) whose celery & parsley flavored roots may be sliced and added to salads or cooked in soups & vegetable purees. Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean region, parsley was used to flavor and garnish food as early as the third century B.C. and was brought to the New World by the colonists. The botanical name comes from the Greek petro meaning “stone or rock”, since the plant was often found growing among rocks. The Ancient Greeks valued the seeds and roots for good health, but to the Romans it was first used as food, munched to freshen their breath. Both Greeks and Romans thought parsley garlands worn around the neck would prevent intoxication by absorbing the fumes of the wine!!!
No herb garden should be without this chlorophyll containing plant. It will grow in the garden for over nine months and will also do well on a sunny, cool windowsill. Plant in early spring, as the seed germinates slowly. In fact, in European folklore, parsley’s notorious slow germination led to the superstition that its roots go down seven times to the devil and back before germination. It helps to soak the seeds in hot water or freeze overnight to speed germination. Parsley prefers full sun and a rich, moist but well-drained soil. Curly parsley only grows about 1 foot tall and is useful for edging and borders and flat leaf or Italian parsley grows to 2 feet and is suitable for the middle of the herb or vegetable garden. Also a good companion plant for asparagus, corn, tomatoes and roses, parsley improves their health and fragrance. In addition, parsley is a host plant of the swallowtail butterfly larvae. When harvesting, cut stems from the outside, never the center, refrigerate for fresh use in a glass of water or freeze in zip-lock bags rather than air dry for the best preservation, besides it takes 12 lbs of fresh parsley to make 1 lb of dried!
Common in Middle Eastern, European and American cooking, parsley lessens the need for salt in soups, adds color and thus visual appeal, compliments the flavor of other herbs, lightens the taste of garlic and the odor of fish, stretches homemade pestos and sauces, may be added raw to salads and can even be fried tempura-style for an appetizer or snack. Parsley has a faint peppery tang which can be added to most any dish, but to retain its flavor, chop and add to hot foods at the last minute, like soups, stews and stocks. If dried, crush in your hand or with a mortar and pestle before adding to food. Parsley also makes an effective end-of-the-meal breath freshener, for even the odor of garlic, so don’t leave this excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C and minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium on your plate. In addition to being full of good-for-you nutrients, parsley purifies the blood and accelerates the excretion of toxins as well as acting as a diuretic.
Grow parsley as an annual, even though
it is a biennial, because the first year leaves
have the best flavor
In order to get more flavor from dried herbs,
sprinkle them over fresh parsley before chopping
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
5 green onions, sliced with some green tops
1/4 cup minced Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt & black pepper
Pour boiling water over bulgur, cover and let sit 1 hour, fluffing with a fork. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hrs. Stir before serving on romaine lettuce garnished with cherry tomatoes and parsley.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
2c parsley leaves
juice of a lemon
1Tbs white wine vinegar
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1tsp Dijon mustard
1c olive oil
Blend at low speed 1 minute until mixture is bright green. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Keeps covered and chilled for 1 week. Stir before using.
CUP A GREEN SOUP
1c frozen peas
5 large parsley leaves
2c warm water
1 pinch dried oregano
1Tbs diced onion
Put all ingredients in a blender for a minute or two. Pour into pan and bring to a boil then simmer 5 mins.