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The delicious and vibrant taste and wonderful healing properties of parsley are often ignored in its popular role as a table garnish. Highly nutritious, parsley can be found year round in your local supermarket.
Parsley is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery". It is an erect, biennial plant with a fleshy aromatic tap root and dark shiny leaves which rise from a short stem.
There are two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley or moss-curled and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety.
While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste.
Gather the washed parsley leaves into a tight ball and hold them with one hand on the cutting board. Using a large cutting knife, slice across the parsley, bringing the knife down and forward or down and backward while sliding it along the mid-section of the fingers of the other hand. Then, holding the handle firmly in one hand, rest the fingers of the other hand on top of the blade (this hand does not apply much pressure on the blade, but rather directs it), bring the front of the blade down first, then back. Repeat till the parsley is finely chopped. Chopped parsley can be sprinkled on a host of different recipes, including salads, vegetable sautés.You can even use parsly stems, chop them and use as required.
How to Select
Dried parsley is brownish green in colour. Dried leaves when crushed have spicy aroma and a pungent, bitter taste. It can be stored for long and used in Italian delicacies like pastas, pizzas etc.
Whenever possible, choose fresh parsley over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. Choose fresh parsley that is deep green in color and looks fresh and crisp. Avoid bunches that have leaves that are wilted or yellow as this indicates that they are either overmature or damaged. Just like with other dried herbs, if you choose to purchase dried parsley flakes, try to select organically grown parsley since this will give you more assurance that the herbs have not been irradiated. Culinary Uses
" No kitchen should be without a good supply of this multi-purpose herb. It can be used as a garnish and flavouring and as a vegetable Parsley can be used in almost any savoury dish.
" It's especially good used in great quantities in fresh salads or in soups and tomato sauces. Chop or shred it and mix with butter to melt over fish or to glaze vegetables.
" There's just as much flavour in the stalk as in the leaf and both are used to flavour stews and stocks.
" It's delicious briefly deep-fried and served as a vegetable.
" Use it in marinades, stuffings, in omelettes - the list goes on!
" Fresh parsley should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile. The best way to clean it is just like you would spinach. Place it in a bowl of cold water and swish it around with your hands. This will allow any sand or dirt to dislodge. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill it with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water.
" Since it has a stronger flavor than the curly variety, Italian flat leaf parsley holds up better to cooking and therefore is usually the type preferred for hot dishes. It should be added towards the end of the cooking process so that it can best retain its taste, color and nutritional value.
" Combine chopped parsley with chopped green onions (scallions), mint leaves, lemon juice and olive oil.
" Add parsley to pesto sauce to add more texture to its green color.
" Serve a colorful salad of fennel, orange, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and parsley leaves.
" Stir Parsley into melted garlic butter for a savory, yet simple, pasta or steamed vegetable topper. How to Store
Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. If the parsley is slightly wilted, either sprinkle it lightly with some water or wash it without completely drying it before storing in the refrigerator.
If you have excess flat leaf parsley, you can easily dry it by laying it out in a single layer on a clean kitchen cloth. Once dried, it should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Curly leaf parsley is best preserved by freezing, as opposed to drying. Although it will retain most of its flavor, it has a tendency to lose its crispness, so it is best used in recipes without first thawing. Health Benefits
" Parsley being rich in ascorbic acid is a very good cleanser.
" It aids digestion and helps relieve from flatulence.
" A couple of sprigs of the fresh herb helps to maintain the blood vessels, hence good for hypertensive people.
" Raw parsley juice in combination with carrot juice and little honey is effective in all ailments connected with eyes, conjunctivitis or weak eyes or sluggishness of the pupil.
" Parsley juice when taken with beet, carrot or cucumber juice is a wonderful remedy for scanty menstruation, cramps and also assists in the regularization of the monthly periods.
" If you have a problem of bad breath, parsley is the solution. Gargle with water boiled with parsley and few pieces of cloves.