5 Easy Recipes With Parsley
As you may know by now, parsley—the little green garnish that was once just a cook’s afterthought—bursts with nutrition. Indeed, parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is an herbal multivitamin: A cup of minced fresh parsley (about four ounces) contains more beta-carotene than a large carrot, almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange, more calcium than a cup of milk, and twenty times as much iron as one serving of liver. And because its taste is mild, eating a cup will not assault the taste buds (in fact, parsley is an excellent breath-freshener).
One thing you’ll notice after eating a lot of parsley is that it’s a mild diuretic. That can be a plus for men with prostate problems and for women who retain water before menstruation. But parsley can also stimulate menstruation, so women who are pregnant or who suspect that they might be pregnant should avoid eating parsley in large amounts.
Parsley has a warm, gentle flavor, with a touch of camphor. Because it’s so mild, you can use it as you would chopped fresh spinach—in salads, soufflés, timbales, frittatas, omelettes, soups, stir-fries, and savory Greek pies with feta cheese.
More than thirty varieties of parsley await you. The best-tasting variety is flat-leaf, or Italian, parsley, although curly parsley keeps longer once picked. Whichever variety you choose, keep it fresh by storing it in the refrigerator in a glass of water with the stems submerged and the leaves dry. Parsley is sold in bunches and should be chosen for bright-green leaves that show no signs of wilting.
Persillade is French for fresh parsley minced with shallots or garlic, to be added to a sauté at the last minute of cooking. It’s a healthier and more savory topping than butter. Gremolata is the Italian form of persillade, made by combining minced fresh parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. It’s a nice addition to fish dishes, and the burst of flavor it offers is a good substitute for salt.
You might also want to try Hamburg parsley, a variety that’s raised for its root. It looks like a parsnip but it tastes woodsy, not sweet. Use it as you would parsnips—steamed and tossed with fresh dill, or sliced and added to vegetable soups.
Judith Benn Hurley has written forand, where she was food editor for five years.
Excerpted with permission from The Good Herb: Recipes and Remedies from Nature (William Morrow; copyright by Judith Benn Hurley, 1995).