- Parsley is one surprisingly nutritious leafy green. Two tablespoons of this verdant sprig are a good source vitamins A and C, Vitamin A helps promote healthy eyes while vitamin C helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
- Not only that, but the herb is an excellent source of vitamin K. Just two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley contains 155 percent of your Daily Value of this nutrient, which plays an important role in helping blood coagulate.
No one knows exactly how long we've been adding parsley to our meals. But we do know that ancient Greeks gave it its name: petroselinon, which meant “rock celery.” Filter that word though Latin, French and English, and you get parsley.
In the wild, parsley really does grow next to rocks or boulders. There are several kinds of cultivated parsley: The “leaf” variety (smooth or wrinkled) is the most common type. It's used fresh as a salad green or garnish, or dried as an herb. The less popular “root” variety is similar to a turnip.
When is Parsley in Season?
Parsley is in season twice a year, usually in late spring and early fall. However, it is also grown in greenhouses all year.
How to Choose Parsley
Fresh parsley is usually more flavorful than the dried flakes. Look for it tied in bunches, often right next to fresh cilantro. (Be careful: They look similar but taste very different!) Fresh parsley's color will be a rich green and show no sign of yellowing, darkening or wilting.
How to Store Parsley
Keep it in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Fresh parsley will keep for about a week. Freeze-dried parsley flakes last much longer, and can be found in the herbs-and-spices section of your local grocery store.
How to Cook with Parsley
Once you find out what it can do for dishes, you'll wonder why you ever treated it like a garnish. You can add fresh parsley to soup stocks, sprinkle it on potatoes, mix it into rice pilafs, bake it with roasted meats or fish, add it to stews, even blend it with scallions, tomatoes, mint and bulgur wheat to make a mouth-watering tabouleh.
Most recipes will call for parsley in:
- Tablespoons (chopped, four sprigs = 1 tbsp), or
- Cups (usually only in larger recipes).
Depending on what you like, there are several leafy veggies that take the place of parsley. In salads, try substituting some fresh arugula for a bold, distinct taste. When chopped or diced, cilantro can replace parsley, although it has much stronger, citrusy flavor. If you run out of the freeze-dried flakes, tarragon can do in a pinch.
Parsley in Recipes
Try mashing Chopped Parsley and Garlic in Potatoes for a rustic take on a classic dish.
With brown rice, millet, lemon, corn and parsley, this recipe for Three-Grain Rice Pilaf delivers zesty flavor and whole-grain texture.
And if you really want to put the sprig to work, you can bake Red Snapper Fillets with Chinese Parsley Paste. This recipe uses pine nuts, lemon juice, cilantro, ginger, garlic and a whole cup of parsley to make the baked dish taste delicious!