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Parsley


Parsley

Varieties

The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. Also, 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 retain its taste, color and nutritional value. As a rule, parsley's taste becomes more intense as you move from the leaves to the stem. In fact, you might be surprised by how intense the flavor becomes as you travel down the stem.

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Storage

The best way to store leftover parsley is not in a plastic bag stuffed in the back of the refrigerator vegetable drawer. Try keeping leftover parsley in a bunch still tied - in a jar of cold water in the refrigerator, covered with a plastic bag. Since it is fragile, fresh parsley should not be washed until you are ready to use it. The best way to clean it is just like you would spinach. Place the parsley in a bowl of cold water and swish it around with your hands. This will allow any sand or dirt to dislodge itself. Once you've finished washing it, 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.

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Origins and Culture

Parsley, a member of the carrot family, derives its name from a Greek word meaning "rock celery," because along with the carrot plant, parsley is related to celery, and once grew on the rocky hillsides of Greece. As such, parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, it was used as a medicine prior to becoming accepted as a food. The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it not only to adorn athletes, 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 Romans. Pliny, in the first century AD, wrote that you would not have found a salad or sauce served in ancient Rome without parsley.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Parsley contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much iron as spinach, is rich in vitamin A and contains folate, potassium and calcium. What's more, parsley is also recognized for its cancer-fighting potential.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Parsley goes well with oregano, marjoram, thyme, garlic, mint, tomatoes and fennel, as an example. Chopped parsley can be sprinkled on a many different recipes, including salads, dressing, dips, soups, sauteed vegetables, and fish. Save the stems for use when making stocks or soups, removing them before serving. Or stretch homemade pesto and other green sauces by adding parsley during mixing. Stir parsley into melted butter for pasta or for a steamed vegetable topper. And combine chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest, and use as a rub for chicken, lamb and beef.

Last but not least, flat-leafed parsley can be dried by laying it out in a single layer on a clean kitchen cloth. Once dried, keep it in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place.

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