Everyone is familiar with parsley (Petroselinum crispum) because it is used to dress up plates of food in restaurants. This pretty herb deserves more serious attention though because it is actually high in vitamins and minerals and can be used to add significant nutritional value to a variety of recipes. Parsley actually is a member of the carrot family and is closely related to celery.
Choosing the Best
Fresh parsley is dark green in color and the mossy looking leaves are tightly curled and fresh looking. There are actually several types of parsley including the Italian parsley and the Hamburg parsley, but the mossy looking variety is the most common one used by cooks.
Parsley that is no longer fresh will get quite limp and small wilted leaves will turn brown and yellow. Parsley can also be purchased as dried flakes, but the healthiest and tastiest parsley is fresh.
Storing parsley is easy in the refrigerator.
- Lightly rinse the parsley
- Place in a plastic bag
- Store in the refrigerator or freeze
Parsley that has been frozen will not remain crisp once it’s thawed. It should be used in recipes before thawing.
Preparing and Cooking
Preparing parsley for use in recipes is easy And requires little effort.
- Immediately before use wash the parsley by gently stirring in bowl of cold water
- Repeat washing until no sign of sand is evident
- Mince or chop the parsley for adding to recipes
Parsley can be used in many ways and in a variety of recipes. If you are making a light colored sauce and want to add parsley, it will be necessary to use the stems instead of the leaves to prevent turning your sauce green.
- Mince and add to a salad
- Mince and add to sauces, dips or dressings
- Mince and sprinkle on fish or vegetables
- Chop and add to tomato dishes and casseroles
- Chop and add to soups
When using parsley in cooked dishes, it should be added near the end of the cooking time because of its delicate nature.
Some people will be surprised to find that parsley is an excellent source of a variety of vitamins and minerals. Parsley also contains flavonoids believed to reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
1 cup of parsley has:
- 79.8 mg Vitamin C
- 5,055 I.U. Vitamin A
- 984 mcg Vitamin K
- 91.2 mcg folate
- 82.8 mg calcium
- 332 mg potassium
- Magnesium and phosphorus
- No cholesterol
- 69 mg Omega-6 fatty acids
Parsley is pretty decorating a plate, but it’s even prettier when you consider the many health benefits it offers. Adding parsley to your recipes can improve the flavor and the nutritional content.