Monday, October 11, 2010

Parsley - Not Just A Garnish

Parsley has been known since the ancient Greeks, and before. It  was recommended by the father of medicine Hippocrates as a cure for many ailments.  Ancient Greeks used it in a wreath for crowning the winners of sporting events and hung it on tombs.  The name parsely comes from two greek words, petros and selinon which literally translates as rock celery, no doubt because this herb originally grew wild on the rocky coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

It was used as a medicinal herb long before it was eaten.  It was used to control blood pressure,  a tonic to strengthen the bladder, was rubbed on mosquito bites to stop itching, and many other uses. There is evidence in medieval Europe of parsley being used as a food, and also being worn around the neck to absorb food odors and as a poison antidote.

There are two main varieties of leaf parsley; curly leaf and flat leaf. The flat leaf or Italian Parsley has a bit stronger flavor and is mostly used in cooking. The curly leaf is used in cooking and as a garnish.  Parsley has a fresh, earthy flavor and is good in rice and potato dishes, in salads, in soups and stews.  And of course, as a garnish on dishes that can be eaten as a breath freshener after the meal.

Which to use, fresh or dried parsley?  With many herbs,  using dried versus fresh is a matter of using less of the dried because of the concentration of flavor.  With parsley,  fresh flat leaf parsley has the most flavor and should be used whenever possible. Dried parsley is very mild.
My Zimbio