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It's Only Parsley My Fault!

By Mark Mulcahy

Do you buy fresh herbs for special recipes at certain times of the year? ¼ cup of Melissa’s Organic Cilantro needed here, 2 tablespoons of organic sage needed there? Many of us do and the question is always, “What do I do with the rest of the bunch or package?”

Organic Parsley

I recently had this same dilemma with a partial bunch of parsley. Yes, I could dry or freeze it, but alas, I tend not to do that. So, what’s my latest solution? I looked up a follow-up recipe to what was potently something that was going to go to waste.

In this case it led me on a parsley exploration and I ended up making some delicious parsley, sour cream spread that would be perfect for watching football with sliced Melissa’s organic carrots and celery, happy hour snacking, or even as a sauce in a wrap!

Parsley Dipping Sauce

Recipe adapted from:  Parsley Lime Sauce

All you need is

1 bunch organic parsley (mine was about ¾ bunch left over from homemade enchiladas)
1 cup sour cream
1 clove organic garlic, minced
¼ large organic white onion, diced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Juice of ½ organic lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth using a blender or food processor, adding salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add water and continue to blend until desired consistency is achieved. Store in an airtight container and let sit for 3 hours, so flavors harmonize and come together. Can be made in large batches and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note: Don’t be impatient with the sitting time, as it really made a difference.

Even more fun than using up the parsley and finding a delicious new dip was learning about how awesome the world’s most popular herb really is.

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. There’s no doubt about it – many cooks prefer Italian parsley. They claim it chops more easily, has tender stems, and has more flavor. It is popular among cooks in the Middle East and Europe, where it’s also used as a vegetable in dishes like tabouli. Curly leaf tends to be more popular here in the US where it’s used as a garnish and ingredient. Is there a flavor difference? That’s up to you – but keep in mind that growing conditions, such as moisture and heat, will affect the flavor of both.

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 best retain its taste, color and nutritional value.

Parsley is, along with celery and carrots, a member of the Umbelliferae family. It’s no longer found in its original, wild form but is thought to have originated in Sardinia. The ancient Greeks, and possibly the Romans, used celery and parsley interchangeably as a seasoning. Both curly and Italian varieties were in use by 320 BC. Parsley spread throughout the Middle East and Europe, and by 1548 parsley had arrived in England. Ancient Greeks crowned winners of sporting events with parsley, and warriors fed the leaves to their horses.

Do you ever get a whiff of your Mask breath these days? Parsley is a cheap and healthful solution. It sweetens the breath, aids digestion, and helps relieve gas. Plus, it’s very nutritious. Loaded with vitamins C and A, calcium, magnesium and iron, parsley is also rich in chlorophyll, so it’s like all deep greens — it builds and helps detoxify your blood. It is an effective diuretic, helping the kidneys and bladder to relieve excess water due to weight gain, menstrual stress, and travel.

Parsley is also a great source of antioxidant nutrients. It boosts your liver health, and it’s good for your eyes. Perhaps most impressive of all, components of parsley have been found to help prevent and even fight Cancer. I gained a whole new respect for parsley when writing this column.

To use, add chopped, raw parsley to pasta and rice dishes; use when making sauces or soup stock, or, steep some in hot water for a cup of tea. (I’ll have to try that after dinner some night!)

When buying parsley, choose bunches with firm, straight stems and bright green leaves. Avoid any with yellowing or wilted leaves. When you get it home, don’t wash it until it’s needed as too much moisture will cause it to break down quicker. At home wrap your bunch in a slightly moistened paper towel, place in a plastic bag and it will hold up for about a week in the fridge.

So, whether you eat it, cook it, wear it or feed it to your horse – parsley is one herb that is worth having around the house!

It’s certainly found a place in mine.
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