Herbs & Spices
Season for Parsley Available Year Round
I don't know about you, but we were a little surprised to hear that parsley is the world's most popular herb. Then we though back to our favorite tabbouleh recipe... and the surprise dissipated. Parsley is a multi-purpose, kitchen staple used to add some major pizazz to all kinds of worldly dishes or simply as an eye-catching, flavor-filled garnish. Slightly peppery and packing a fresh-tasting punch, curly-leaf parsley and the more strongly flavored Italian or flat-leaf parsley are the varieties you've most likely encountered (but there are more than 30 out there).
How to Buy and Store Parsley
While parsley is available in its dried form, it loses so much of its oomph, it's hardly worth it. Instead, spring for the fresh stuff as you go. Fresh parsley should look like just that: Fresh. Sold in bunches, look for the most vibrant, bright-green leaves you can. Avoid any and all signs of wilting, yellowing or browning. Store your parsley wrapped for up to a week in your refrigerator. If you see signs of wilting, you can wash your parsley, shake off the excess moisture, and wrap it - first in paper towels, then in a bag - and place it back in the fridge.
How to Cook Parsley
Like we mentioned: Tabbouleh. Parsley added to fresh salads imparts a decidedly Middle Eastern appeal, and the curly variety also adds great texture. Italian flat leaf parsley, however, with its stronger flavor, holds up better to cooking and therefore is usually the type preferred for hot dishes such as soups, stews and sauces. It should be added towards the end of the cooking process so that it can best retain its taste, color and nutritional value. Parsley, chopped or shredded, can be garnished over the top of fish, chicken or veggies. Parsley can really be successfully added to just about anything savory.
Tip: Parsley makes a great component to all types of sauces, especially for pasta. But, if you're making a light-colored sauce, it might turn a little green from the parsley. Instead, use the stems and leave the leaves out, so the sauce will take on the flavor of parsley but not the color.
Health Benefits of Parsley
Parsley's vibrancy is indicative of some impressive health benefits. In fact, parsley containes two types of components that provide unique health benefits. The first are volatile oils—including myristicin, limonene, eugenol and alpha-thujene—which have been shown to inhibit tumor formation and are chemoprotective, meaning they can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens. The second type are flavonoids—including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin—which act like antioxidants in the body, fighting off those free radicals.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Parsley
The irony is that - while parsley contains unique compounds that can help rid the body of pesticides - tons of said pesticides are used in the cultivation of this popular herb. Forego conventional parsley in favor of its organic counterpart and reap all its benefits. And, when purchasing dried parsley, it's even more important to purchase organically, for conventional dried spices have likely been sterilized with chemicals or even irradiated, which creates potentially toxic and carcinogenic by-products.
Your best bet? Grow your own! That way, you save money and you'll have the fresh stuff on hand with all its healing and culinary valor. Plus, parsley is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it's established.
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