Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Parsley – Family Apiaceae – Genus Petroselinum

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Parsley is the most common herb worldwide. Native to the Mediterranean, it has been cultivated for more than two millennium. Deriving its name from Greek, its translation means “rock celery”, and both parsley and celery belong to the same Family. This biennial herb includes two significant varieties used in cooking: curly leaf (P. crispum) and flat leaf (P. neapolitanum). Once planted, it returns year after year and can withstand cold climates.

Traditions: From Book III, On Right Pleasure and Good Health, Platina (1421-1481 A.D.) #24. On Parsley. “Parsley is sown at the same time as mint. It is called apium because in Achaea the head [apex] of victors in the sacred contest was crowned with it, or because bees [apes] gladly feed upon its flowers. They say Hercules used parsley, poplar, and wild olive in crowns. Roots of parsley act wonderfully against poison, and because it is bitter, it suits medicine more than eating. Some call this herb ambrosia.”

Applications: It is an anti-spasmodic, reduces fever, and is a known diuretic. It is high in Vitamin C and Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and flavonoids, especially luteolin, which has been shown to function as an antioxidant.

Culinary Uses: There is so much more to this herb than a sprig on a plate! One of the few herbs that blends well with almost everything, it can be added to soups, stews, ground meat mixtures, seasoning mixes, even drinks! Add minced leaves to other herb mixes to freshen them. Save the stems and add them to the pot when you’re making stock or soup or braised dishes. Tired of the standard lettuce salad? Perk it up by adding whole leaves and other tender fresh herb leaves. It makes an exceptional Italian herb sauce mixed with olives and anchovies. If you want to make basil pesto during cold weather when the price of basil can be quite high, stretch the basil by adding about 1/4 amount of parsley. The visual difference without parsley and with it impresses the diner. Automatically, our eyes go to the more colorful presentation, and it just happens to be more nutritious too! Plate looking dull? Next time, heat oil until hot, and fry sprigs, drain and place on top of the main ingredient – bet everyone eats the parsley first this time because it is delicious!

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