Parsley

When searching for a flavourful addition to any sauce and colourful garnish to any dish, one has to think of parsley. This is one of the most used, longest used in the kitchen, and best known aromatic herbs.

Parsley has certainly been in use since ancient Greek and Roman times and it was well know in Europe in Medieval times.

Parsley has a high content of vitamin C, also rich iron and carotenoids, and it is considered a good digestive.

How to identify parsley

Parsley originated in the Mediterranean area. The plant is a biennial herb with vibrant green leaves. There are many varieties; you could divide them in two wide groups: curly leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley. Both have similar flavor.

How to use and store

Parsley has a fresh, piquant and sweet flavor, with a hint of anise. Widely used in any western cuisine, both as flavoring and garnish; any dish looks more appetizing decorated with a sprig of parsley on top.

A bouquet garni should always have a sprig of parsley, or two, and also most marinades for fish and meat; finely chopped parsley is one of the fines herbes. Chopped leaves are used in many sauces, some with a name, like the British parsley sauce, eaten with fish, or the tartare and ravigote sauces in France. Parsley flavors mayonnaise, salad dressings, herb butters or cream cheese.

Use it finely chopped in stuffing, soups, with eggs, fish and all types of meat and vegetable dishes. Adds more flavor and aroma if added at the end of the cooking. Parsley is generally combined with garlic in Spanish cuisine. In French cuisine a mixture of finely chopped parsley and garlic or shallot known as persillade is frequently added at the end to improve both flavor and look. Italian cuisine makes a similar use of parsley, but they also combine it with orange or lemon zest.

Parsley freezes very well, but it does not have a nice taste dried; as it is easy to grow and widely available fresh there is no need to use dried parsley.

Cooking with parsley

Parsley is an ingredient in almost every savory Spanish recipe, often together with garlic.

Parsley garlic pasta

5 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
8-10 oz pasta

  1. Cook the pasta in 8-10 cups boiling water with 2 tsp salt. Cook 8-12 minutes, depending on shape and size. Drain, rinse with cold water and reserve.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until starting to get color. Add anchovies and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the reserved pasta and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.

Try mushrooms with garlic and parsley or cod in green sauce.

Experiment

Prepare your own herb cheese by rolling some creamy goat cheese onto finely chopped parsley leaves.

Fry 10 cloves of garlic, slivered, in 4 Tbs olive oil; add 1 other clove of garlic, crushed, the leaves from 1 sprig of parsley, finely chopped, 1 tsp thyme leaves and 6 peppercorns, crushed. Stir a couple of times. Add the juice of 1 lemon. Stir to mix well and pour this sauce, still hot, over small pieces of deep fried chicken.

Sprinkle chopped parsley leaves over grilled fish during the last minutes of cooking.

To prepare a lemon and herb butter sauce for fried, boiled or steamed fish, melt 1/2 Tbs butter with the juice from half lemon and add 1 tsp fresh chopped tarragon, 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley, 1 tsp fresh chopped basil and 1 crushed clove of garlic.

Parsley - petroselinum crispum (umbelliferae) - French persil - German petersilie - Italian prezzemolo - Spanish perejil.

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