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 and is easily grown at home.
Parsley is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established.
Parsley and Garlic Frittata
A good frittata is great any time of the day, morning or evening.
This particular frittata makes a great dinner but doesn’t taste like a last-minute option.
A healthy handful of Italian parsley, slivered garlic and crumbled feta cheese give it a Greek flavor, and it’s easily adaptable to one, two or even three.
A green salad and a glass of white wine are all you need to add for a fresh, light and healthy dinner.
Parsley and Garlic Frittata for One
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Knob of butter
4 cloves of garlic, slivered
Preheat your broiler. Beat the eggs well with a little salt and pepper and stir in the feta and parsley. Melt the butter in a medium skillet with an oven-proof handle. As the butter is melting, drizzle in just a little olive oil. Cook the garlic slowly over medium heat until soft and golden.
Turn the heat to medium high and pour in the eggs. Cook for about four minutes, or until the bottom is set.
Put in the oven and broil for another four minutes or until set through and lightly browned on top. Serve immediately.
Parsley as a Companion Plant
Parsley is widely used as a companion plant in gardens. Like many other umbellifers, it attracts predatory insects, including wasps, predatory flies and ladybugs to gardens, which then tend to protect plants nearby.
While parsley is biennial, not blooming until its second year, even in its first year it is reputed to help cover up the strong scent of the tomato plant, reducing pest attraction.
Grow Parsley in Your Herb Garden
Parsley can be easily grown in your herb garden, as well as inside your home, wherever there is plenty of sunlight.
It will need about 5 hours of sunlight a day. Parsley needs good, light soil, good drainage and frequent watering to thrive indoors.
To harvest parsley, cut the most mature stalks near the base that are still bright green. New shoots will grow for some time from the base of an established plant. Parsley is extraordinarily rich in vitamins C and A, minerals (especially potassium), beta-carotene, folate and dietary fiber.
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Parsley is Full of Nutrition
Parsley is extraordinarily rich in vitamins C and A, minerals (especially potassium), beta-carotene, folate and dietary fiber. It can also be used as a breath freshener.
- Is rich in antioxidants
- Supports bone health
- Contains cancer-fighting substances
- Is rich in nutrients that protect your eyes
- May improve heart health
- Extract has antibacterial properties and
- Is easy to add to your diet.
Parsley may also help keep your kidneys healthy by fighting inflammation and reducing high blood pressure and your risk of kidney stones.
Parsley is an unsung superfood. Not only is parsley packed with nutrients, but it also helps prevent diabetes, prevents and treats kidney stones and is a proven all-natural anti-cancer remedy.
Native to southern Europe, parsley has been in use for more than 2,000 years and is used all around the world.
The History of Parsley
Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food. The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased. The practice of using parsley as a garnish actually has a long history that can be traced back to the civilization of the ancient Romans.
Selecting and Storing Parsley
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.
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.
Preparing and Cooking Parsley
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.
If you are making a light colored sauce, use the stems from this variety as opposed to the leaves, so the sauce will take on the flavor of parsley but will not be imparted with its green color.
Tabbouleh Salad with Bulgur, Quinoa, or Cracked Wheat
Tabbouleh is one of those dishes that lends itself towards improvisation. You can feel free to throw it together without a lot of stress and worry, which has resulted in many delicious, creative variations.
SERVES 4 to 6
1/2 cup of bulgur or cracked wheat, or cooked quinoa
1 to 2 large bunches of flat leaf parsley, washed and dried
1 large bunch of mint, washed and dried
2 scallions or spring onions or eshallots
2 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice (optional)
1 small cucumber (optional)
A few whole leaves of mint for garnish.
Soak the bulgur. Place the bulgur or cracked wheat in a small bowl and cover with very hot (just off the boil) water by 1/2-inch. Set aside to soak until softened but still chewy, about 20 minutes.
While the bulgur is soaking, juice the lemon and chop the parsley and mint. You will need roughly 1 1/2 cup packed chopped parsley and 1/2 cup packed chopped mint for this amount of bulgur. Slice the scallions thinly to equal a heaping 1/4 cup. Medium chop the tomatoes; they will equal roughly 1 1/2 cups. Medium chop the cucumber, about 1/2 cup.
When the bulgur is done, drain off any excess water and place in the large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss to coat the grains. As you finish prepping the herbs and vegetables, add them to the bowl with the bulgur, but reserve half of the the diced tomato to use for garnish.
Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and another 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the optional allspice to the bowl. Toss everything together, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
To serve, garnish the tabbouleh with the reserved tomato and a few whole mint sprigs. Serve at room temperature with crackers, cucumber slices, fresh bread, or pita chips.
To make Quinoa Tabbouleh, just substitute 1 cup of cooked quinoa for the bulgur.
To make tabbouleh with cracked wheat, substitute 1 cup of cooked cracked wheat for the bulgur.
Tabbouleh is very flexible. Feel free to add more or less of any ingredient based on your palate. The ground allspice may sound unusual but it adds a touch of warmth and spice to the overall flavor.
Parsley as Medicine
The taproot, leaves, and seeds of parsley are used medicinally. Its essential oil, particularly that from the seed, contains the chemicals apiole and myristicin and these constituents are diuretic and act as uterine stimulates.
The saponin content may help relieve coughs.
When crushed and rubbed on the skin, parsley, which inhibits the secretion of histamine, can reduce itching in mosquito bites and is used in treating hives and other allergy symptoms (Hanrahan and Frey 2005).
An advisory panel on herbal medicines, German Commission E, has approved parsley for use in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones (Hanrahan and Frey 2005).
Tea made from parsley may be used as an enema. Chinese and German herbologists recommend parsley tea to help control high blood pressure, and the Cherokee Indians used it as a tonic to strengthen the bladder.
Parsley also appears to increase diuresis by inhibiting the Na+/K+-ATPase pump in the kidney, thereby enhancing sodium and water excretion while increasing potassium reabsorption (Kreydiyyeh and Usta 2002).
Some Parsley Serving Ideas
Combine chopped parsley with bulgur wheat, chopped green onions (scallions), mint leaves, lemon juice and olive oil to make the Middle Eastern classic dish, tabouli.
Add parsley to pesto sauce to add more texture to its green color.
Combine chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest, and use it as a rub for chicken, lamb and beef.
Use parsley in soups and tomato sauces.
Serve a colorful salad of fennel, orange, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and parsley leaves.
Chopped parsley can be sprinkled on a host of different recipes, including salads, vegetable sautés and grilled fish.