Let’s Talk Food: Parsley for various uses

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When we think of parsley, we think of two types, either the curly ones we see on our plates that are used for garnish or decoration or the flat-leaf parsley.

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When we think of parsley, we think of two types, either the curly ones we see on our plates that are used for garnish or decoration or the flat-leaf parsley.

The curly parsley, or Petroselinum crispum, has ruffled leaves and is used for a garnish. The taste of this parsley is bitter and grassy.

The Italian flat-leaf parsley, or Petroselinum crispum neopolitanum, has flat leaves. When a recipe calls for parsley, this is the parsley that should be used. The flavor of this parsley is sweet, bright and robust.

There are a couple more types of parsley with which you might not be familiar. Japanese parsley is an evergreen perennial herb with somewhat of a bitter flavor. The stems are eaten like celery.

Hamburg parsley has large leaves with thick parsnip-like roots that add texture and flavor to soups and stews. The leaves are ornamental and look like ferns.

The Italian parsley is a great herb to have in your garden, as you never know when you will need some. It is a biennial, so therefore should be replaced every two years.

Flat-leaf parsley can replace basil in this pesto pasta from America’s Test Kitchen.

Parsley and Toasted Nut Pesto

Serves: 4 to 6

In a food processor, pulse until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds:

1 cup pecans, toasted

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 garlic cloves, toasted

Scrape down bowl as needed. Transfer to medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil in a large pot:

4 quarts water

Add:

1 pound pasta of your choice

1 tablespoon salt

Cook, stirring often, until al dente.

Reserve 3/4-cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.

Stir several tablespoons of reserved pasta water into pesto to loosen it, then add it to pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Notes: To stand up to the grassy, heartier flavor of parsley, a cup of pecans instead of pine nuts was added. You also can substitute with walnuts, blanched almonds, skinned hazelnuts or a combination of any of these nuts.

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Let’s turn a Lebanese dish, tabbouleh, into a local dish with pineapple.

Pineapple Tabbouleh

Makes: 7 cups

In a large bowl, place:

1 cup medium-grain bulgur wheat

Pour in and cover with a glass plate of pot lid and let rest for one hour:

2 cups boiling water

While bulgur is cooking and soaking up the water, combine in a separate bowl:

2 cups chopped fresh vine-ripened Kawamata Kamuela tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 cup fresh chopped pineapple

In a small bowl, add:

Grated lemon zest of one lemon

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Mix well, whisk well drizzling:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fluff bulgur and place in bowl with tomatoes. Add dressing and mix well

Chop finely:

1 cup fresh mint, well dried

4 cups flat-leaf parsley, well dried

Add the bowl, toss to mix well. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Tabbouleh will keep, refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

•••

Eating parsley is good for your health. Some of its benefits include:

• Parsley has a good amount of folic acid. Research from Harvard Medical School shows foods high in folic acid can help regulate blood pressure and produce and maintain new cells. Other foods with high folic acid include peas, lentils, whole wheat items, beets, brussels sprouts and spinach.

• It is a good source of Vitamin C, which you might think are mostly in fruits such as oranges.

• According to Livestrong.com, parsley plays an important role in the process of removing unnecessary fluids from the body, thus improving kidney functions. However, because it does that so well, people with kidney or gall bladder issues should not eat parsley.

• Parsley contains Vitamin K, which is an important nutrient in helping the body respond to injuries because it helps in the clotting process, giving the body a chance to stop the damage and begin the healing process. In addition, Vitamin K has been shown to help reduce the risk of bone damage and build bone durability.

• Parsley aids in digestion with compounds that can treat colic, intestinal gas and constipation.

• Research has shown parsley oil rubbed into the scalp can effectively limit hair loss.

• Parsley contains anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation around the joints and ease pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis. A study published by the Journal of Natural Remedies found lab rats treated with parsley leaf extract experienced reduced inflammation in their paws.

• Parsley contains flavonoids, which are pigments often in plants and contains a large amount of the flavonoid apigenin, which research has shown could help reduce the multiplication of breast cancer cells.

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So, have you eaten your parsley today?

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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