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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Parsley

Parsley:

About:

Parsley, known as Petroselinum crispum is in the family of Apiaceae with carrots, celery, and fennel.  Garden parsley is a bright green biennial plant in temperate climates or an annual herb in subtropical and tropical areas.   Parsley is widely used in Middle Easter, European, and American cooking.  Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish.  In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top.  Parsley is the world's most popular herb.  It is used as a garnish, condiment, food, and flavoring.  In manufacturing parsley seed oil is used as a fragrance, in soups, cosmetics, and perfumes.

Varieties:

There are 2 main groups of parsley used as herbs:

1. Curly leaf parsley - often used as garnish
2.  Italian flat leaf parsley - Moe fragrant and less bitter taste than curly.          

Root Parsley - grown as a root.
This type of parsley produces much thicker roots than types cultivated for their leaves.  Root parsley is common in central and eastern European cuisine, where it is used in soups and stews, or simply eaten raw as as a snack, similar to carrots.  


History:

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe.  It has been cultivated for more than 2000 years. Parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food.   Although lacking documentation, here is a list of purported medicinal uses:
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Constipation
  • Kidney stones
  • Jaundice
  • Intestinal gas
  • Indigestion
  • Colic 
  • Diabetes
  • Cough
  • Asthma
  • Fluid retention
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Prostate condition
  • Spleen conditions.
It is also used to start menstrual flow, to cause an abortion, as an aphrodisiac, and as a breathe freshener.

Nutrition:

Parsley is a nutririous food.  It is actually a storehouse of nutrients with a delicious and vibrant taste.   Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as a good source of vitamin A, folate, and iron.  Parsaley's volatile oil components include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.  Its flavonoid components include apirn, apigenin, erisocriol, and luteolin.  Parley is a good source of foic acid which plays a role in cardiovascular health. 

Health Benefits:

Parsley contains 2 types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits.  The first is volatile oil components, that have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies and particularly, atumor formation in the lungs.  Secondly, there are flavonoids in parsley that have been shown to function as antiooxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen conmtaining molecules and help prevent oxygen based damage to cells. 

My Story: 

In my grandfather's grocery store one of the things we would do to help keep the produce at its best was to sprinkle  the vegetables that had a tendency to dry out with water at night.  This was done in the produce cooler,  and we would use a bunch of parsley, which we dipped into water and then sprinkled onto the produce.  It reminded me of the way the priest sprinkles the congregation with holy water at church.   Years later I would use that technique to sprinkle down off-refrigeration displays of fresh corn to keep them from drying out.  I'm sure people thought I was nuts.

Concerns:

Parsley is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalate, naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings.  When oxalate's become too concentrated in body fluids it can crystallize and cause health problems.  For this reason individuals with already existing and untreated kidney oar gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating parsley.


Availability:

Parsley is available in the supermarket year round.  It can be found fresh and dried. 


Selecting and Storing:

While parsley is available dried, fresh parsley is superior in flavor. 

Choose parsley that is deep green in color and looks fresh and crisp.  Avoid bunches that have leaves that are wilted or yellow as this indicates they are over mature or damaged.
Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  If the parsley is slightly wilted, sprinkle it lightly with some water, or wash it out completely drying it before storing in the refrigerator.  
 Fresh parsley should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile.

So.....Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:

  • Combine chopped parsley with Bulgar wheat, chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes, mint leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil to make the classic Middle Eastern dish, tabbouleh.
  • Add parsley to pesto sauce to add more texture.
  • Combine chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest and use as a rub for chicken, lamb, and beef.
  • Use parsley in soups and tomato sauce.
  • Serve a colorful salad of fennel, orange, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and parsley flakes.
  • Chopped parsley can be sprinkled on salads, vegetable sautes and grilled fish