Humble Herbs: In Praise of Parsley

It's easy to write parsley off. Parsley is just the requisite garnish that decorates plates at fancy restaurants. In our own cooking, we tend to pass over parsley in favor of herbs with bolder, bigger flavors. But a few recipes we've made this summer have started to change our mind!

No, parsley doesn't have the forward flavor of dill or tarragon, the delicacy of chervil, or even the controversial pungency of cilantro. But as we've chopped up big bunches of parsley to use in our recipes for Baked Falafel, Eggplant Caviar, and Tabbouleh, we've really started to appreciate what this herb adds to our dishes.

The the flat and curly leafed varieties of parsley have a green, almost lemony flavor. It perks up salads and vegetable dishes without stealing the show or overpowering other flavors. It also stays fresh-tasting even after sitting out on a buffet table for several hours. We don't think the flavor holds up well to heat or long cooking, so we like to add parsley just before serving.

Its leaves are less tender than its cousin chervil, and the stems can be woody. We generally only use the leaves in our fresh preparations, chopping them finely before adding them in. The stems still have a lot of flavor. Even if we don't necessarily like chewing on them, we can save them for flavoring soups and stock.

What do you think of parsley? Do you use it a lot in your cooking?

Related: Tip: Use Curly Kale for Retro Garnish

(Image: Flickr member Kelley Mari licensed under Creative Commons)

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