Parsley is frequently unappreciated as a foodstuff and relinquished to the status of a common garnish. It is available at markets in two forms, curly and flat leaf or Italian parsley. The former type has less flavor than the latter and is primarily used as a garnish. Italian parsley is flavorful whether raw or cooked. Both types are usually snipped with scissors or kitchen shears rather than chopped with a knife; this is to control the particle size and release the most flavor.
Flavoring With Parsley
Although parsley lacks the assertive flavors of fresh mint, basil, thyme, rosemary or oregano, its grassy taste adds herbal depth to soups, stews and braising liquids. In larger quantities, fresh parsley leaves enhance tossed green salads, bean salads and rice, quinoa and couscous recipes.
Garnishing and Finishing
Raw snipped parsley sprinkled on cooked potatoes, pasta and vegetables right before serving brings freshness to the dishes. A sprig of fresh parsley on a plate or nestled around a roasted chicken or beef or pork roast adds beauty to the presentation. Curly parsley is more decorative but both types are appropriate garnishes. Use snipped parsley to top sour cream-dressed baked potatoes or Tex-Mex dishes.
If two boldly flavored fresh herbs like mint and basil are in a dish, parsley is a good herb to bring the tastes together, mellow them out and prevent them from clashing with each other. If you run short on basil when making pesto, you can substitute fresh Italian parsley with little concession in taste. Mistakenly adding too much cilantro to a dish can be rectified by tossing in a handful of snipped parsley to tame the cilantro flavor.
Parsley has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C of any food, about 125 to 300 mg per 100 g, the size of a scant average bunch of store-bought parsley. Parsley is also full of calcium, iron and two antioxidants, beta-carotene and lutein. Further, parsley is rich in chlorophyll and myristicin, compounds that may have additional health benefits
To keep parsley from becoming limp, snip the bottom stems of the bunch and place them in cold water in a vase. Keep the vase on the top shelf of the refrigerator and change the water every couple of days. If storing in the vegetable bin, dry the parsley with paper towels and store in a small paper bag or wrap it in dry paper towels and place it inside a perforated plastic bag to encourage airflow.
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