Parsley, like its leafy green cousin kale, is sadly often resigned to taking a corner seat on the sidelines of a buffet table or salad platter. But this universal herb is much more than just a green garnish. It’s a vegetable that can be used like any other green—and just not as a finishing herb. Here are 5 recipe ideas that make parsley the main star of the meal.
The colorful Middle Eastern tabouli is typically made of bulgur, tomatoes, parsley, and lemon juice. And in many bolder recipes, parsley is the most dominant ingredient, not just an accent. Eating Well has one such recipe that lets parsley take the lead in this zesty chilled salad—it calls for a whopping 2 cups of the fresh herb.
2. Parsley Smoothie
You’ve no doubt had parsley as part of a fresh juice before, but did you know that you can make a full-fledged parsley smoothie at home with just a blender? Parsley is a winning combo with virtually any fruit imaginable (including avocados or cucumbers), so mix and match with what you’ve got in the freezer or the farmers market.
A good rule of thumb is to try out ¼ to ½ cup of fresh parsley for each serving of smoothie you’re blending up. Keep it more savory by leaving out the sweet fruits and opting for a mixture of parsley, avocado, and other leafy greens.
3. Parsley Saute
For an inventive and surprisingly refreshing sauté, swap your usual leafy green out for a bunch or two of chopped fresh parsley. Cook them down in a bold olive oil with red pepper flakes and crushed garlic, and finish it off with ample sea salt and lemon juice. It’s a Mediterranean-style sauté that can be truly delicious. Try it out with curly parsley (instead of the flat-leaf variety) for a kale-like texture and mouthfeel.
4. Parsley Pesto
Though traditionally made with basil leaves, pesto can essentially be made with any fresh herbs. When done with parsley, the result is slightly grassier and sharper, but no less satisfying. Try simply substituting parsley for basil with your fave pesto recipe, and use as you normally would. Parsley tends to pair well with walnuts, so you may try using walnuts in place of pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese.
5. Parsley Soup
As with the parsley sauté idea, this one is really as simple as using parsley in place of spinach or kale in a soothing, creamed soup. Simply cook down chopped parsley with other typical soup ingredients like garlic, onions, and aromatics of choice, then puree until smooth (and strain if you desire a finer consistency).
You’ll find a tutorial of this with a great recipe on Epicurious.com for parsley soup with leeks and zucchini. For chilled version of parsley soup—not unlike a traditional vichyssoise—check out this recipe from the New York Times. And yet another recipe for parsley soup, also supplied from the New York Times, has a unique comfort-esque spin on it: it contains ginger, buttermilk, and bread crumbs.