Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Parsley - The Herb for Garnishing, Flavoring and Medicine

This petite leafy thing is often discarded by diners as "just a garnish", yet parsley has persistently pushed its way as among the most useful and healthy culinary herb around the world.  

My sister is a garnish eater, but not me! She's so fond of stealing parsley from our plates and pop it in her mouth during dine-outs. Parsley is a staple in her kitchen and every time she makes special dinner, it's so amusing of her opening the door for us with hand and arms of fresh parsley as she wraps them around us and leading us into the kitchen. We loved the smell in the kitchen... perfect... soothing and relaxing. Perhaps it's what parsley is about.

What is Parsley?

Parsley is one of the most well-liked herbs grown in herb gardens everywhere purposely for flavoring, as a garnish or for medicinal purposes. It has a saw-like curly or flat leaves which grows at around 12 inches tall and cultivated in a well-drained and moisture retaining soil. It can be grown outdoors and indoors. 

For indoor growing, use a deep pot and fresh potting soil to accommodate the long taproot. If infestations arise, spray with soap and water at once. Since germination of parsley requires warm temperatures, it is best to place your pots on windowsill so it is sure to get the necessary 5 hours of sunlight requirement. 

During cold weather, use fluorescent lights hanged 6 inches from the plants and leave the lights on for 14 hours a day. For growing outdoors, planting is as simple as seeding straight into the spot where you want to grow it and allow the plant to sow by itself.

The Health Benefits of Parsley

Parsley is healthy and known as one of the world's most potent disease fighting culinary spices rich in calcium, chorophyll, folate, iron, vitamins, and beta-carotene. These are the benefits that herbalists and health-conscious people believe to help with digestion and in lowering high blood pressure. For medicinal approach, it is believed to enhance and stimulate energy on the body's vital organs that aids in the assimilation of nutrients.

Parsley makes a good herbal drink. I first had a hot cup of this herb from my grandmother, the taste was a little peppery, grassy and yes earthy, but it's healthy. Imagine a cup of finely-chopped fresh parsley is richer in beta carotene than a carrot, it's twice the vitamin C of an orange, contains more calcium than a cup of milk, and 20 times iron content as a serving of liver. 

Because of its peppery flavor, fresh aroma and lively green color, parsley is the perfect in to garnish dishes that needs some freshening up. Parsley is also the most natural breath freshener. It's fresh and clean grass-like taste and scent helps get rid of that onion and garlicky after taste and smell in your mouth after eating them raw.

Parsley is excellent in salads, sauces, soups, stews, stuffing, omelets, and vegetable dishes. It is perfect to embellish meat, fish, poultry dishes. Chop it so fine and mix with cheese dips, crush it into butter and spread in your bread and biscuits, melt it into casseroles, scrambled eggs, rice or pasta. Although dried parsley is common to keep this herb on hand, it is best to use in fresh.

A photo from The Fresh Dish

Example of certain recipes with fresh herbs like parsley as main components are pesto, tabbouleh, or classic salad that layers mozzarella, tomatoes and muzzled parsley leaves. A salad dressing drenched with dried parsley is another good example. From garnishing to flavoring, parsley truly does make for deliciousness all the time.

Truly every cook's best leafy friend!