Italian flat-leaf parsley has the best flavor

Do you love parsley? I don’t. I don’t mind it, just don’t love the flavor. It’s so “parsleyish”. But pick up almost any recipe and you’ll find it used as a final garnish. Recently a friend served parsley pesto over pasta for dinner. Mentally I was thinking it sounds as bad as raisin pie which is a total waste of good crust. It actually tasted okay, but pretty parsley-intense. Luckily the parsley flavor was mellowed by olive oil, cheese and nuts.

Healthful Addition to Meals

Still, garnishing is best in my book. I dutifully purchase a bunch at the grocery with which to garnish my dish. It only costs a buck, but I’ll use only about 10 leaves. So then I have this bunch of healthy, green goodness that gets rid of garlic breath, is chock full of vitamin C and K, helps regulate blood pressure and is a digestive aid. I can’t make myself just compost the rest so I need to find a way to use it that doesn’t swamp me with parsley flavor. And so I don’t have to run to the store every time I want some for garnish.

Freeze it

Parsley in my retro 70’s salad spinner

It can be frozen! It’s easy to do and when it comes out of the freezer, it tastes fresh, retains its beautiful green color and still gives you all the healthy benefits. Simply wash it, remove as many stems as you can (not necessary to remove them all), spin it dry in a salad spinner, bag and freeze.

Chopped, dried and ready to freeze

When you want to use it, simply remove the amount you want, chop it while frozen and voila. It thaws quickly so if you want to sprinkle it for a garnish do it while frozen or you won’t be able to separate it easily.

Parsley lasts for months in the freezer

Grow your own

Growing your own parsley assures you’ll always have it at your fingertips. Parsley stays green well into winter (almost evergreen in mild winters), and sprouts in very early spring. Find a spot in sun or partial shade, soak your seeds 24 hours and plant.

Parsley makes a beautiful border plant

Parsley is a biennial, meaning it grows a rosette of leaves the first year, sends up a flower stalk in the second year and dies after setting seeds. If you let the seeds ripen and fall, nature will start your new plants where they drop and you’ll always have parsley. You simply need to thin out the plants and organize (not nearly as impolite as dill, which scatters its seed all over everywhere).

Carrots and celery

You can use the same freezing method with celery and carrot leaves, but unfortunately, this method does not work with cilantro. Even though they are related, cilantro is more delicate and loses its flavor when frozen. I’m still experimenting though so I’ll keep you posted.

I took my friend’s recipe for parsley pesto and converted one of my favorites, broccoli pesto, by adding about one-third parsley. The recipe is below.

Broccoli-Parsley Pesto for two

1 c. broccoli flowers
½ c. parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
½ c. fresh basil leaves
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
¼ c. toasted walnuts, pecans or pine nuts

¼ c. olive oil
1-2 T. grated parmesan
½ lb. noodles of choice, cooked and drained

Pulse first seven ingredients in a food processor until chopped. Gradually add olive oil with the processor running. Process until smooth. Toss with hot cooked noodles and Parmesan cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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