Definitions

parsley haw

Parsley

[pahr-slee]
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a bright green, biennial herb, also used as spice. Having originated in Iran ("Pars"), it thus acquired its European name. It is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Parsley is used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although it has a milder flavor.

Varieties

Two forms of parsley are used as herbs: curly leaf and Italian, or flat leaf (P. neapolitanum). Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. Many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor, and this opinion is backed by chemical analysis which finds much higher levels of essential oil in the flat-leaved cultivars. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The use of curly leaf parsley may be favored by some because it cannot be confused with poison hemlock, like flat leaf parsley or chervil.

Root parsley

Another type of parsley is grown as a root vegetable, as with hamburg root parsley. This type of parsley produces much thicker roots than types cultivated for their leaves. Although little known in Britain and the United States, root parsley is very common in Central and Eastern European cuisine, used in soups and stews.

Though it looks similar to parsnip it tastes quite different. Parsnips are among the closest relatives of parsley in the umbellifer family of herbs, although the similarity of the names is a coincidence, parsnip meaning "forked turnip". It is not related to real turnips.

Cultivation

Parsley's germination is notoriously difficult. Tales have been told concerning its lengthy germination, with some suggesting that "germination was slow because the seeds had to travel to hell and back two, three, seven, or nine times (depending on sources) before they could grow." Germination is inconsistent and may require 3-6 weeks.

Furanocoumarins in parsley's seed coat may be responsible for parsley's problematic germination. These compounds may inhibit the germination of other seeds, allowing parsley to compete with nearby plants. However, parsley itself may be affected by the furanocoumarins. Soaking parsley seeds overnight before sowing will shorten the germination period.

Parsley grows well in deep pots, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight a day.

Companion plant

Parsley is widely used as a companion plant in gardens. Like many other umbellifers, it attracts predatory insects, including wasps and predatory flies to gardens, which then tend to protect plants nearby. They are especially useful for protecting tomato plants, for example the wasps that kill tomato hornworms also eat nectar from parsley. While parsley is biennial, not blooming until its second year, even in its first year it is reputed to help cover up the strong scent of the tomato plant, reducing pest attraction.

Usage

Culinary use

In Central and Eastern Europe and in West Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Green parsley is often used as a garnish. The fresh flavor of the green parsley goes extremely well with potato dishes (french fries, boiled buttered potatoes or mashed potato), with rice dishes (risotto or pilaf), with fish, fried chicken, lamb or goose, steaks, meat or vegetable stews (like Beef Bourguignon, Goulash or Chicken paprikash). In Southern and Central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used to flavor stocks, soups, and sauces. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups like Chicken soup, green salads or salads like Salade Olivier, on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés. Parsley is a key ingredient in several West Asian salads, e.g., tabbouleh (the national dish of Lebanon). Persillade is mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley in the French cuisine. Gremolata is a traditional accompaniment to the Italian veal stew, Ossobuco alla milanese, a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

Root parsley is very common in Central and Eastern European cuisines, where it is used as soup vegetable in many soups and in most meat or vegetable stews and casseroles.

Medicinal use

Health risks

  • Parsley should not be consumed as a drug or supplement by pregnant women. Parsley as an oil, root, leaf, or seed could lead to uterine stimulation and preterm labor.
  • Parsley is high (1.70% by mass, ) in oxalic acid, a compound involved in the formation of kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies.
  • Parsley oil contains furanocoumarins and psoralens which leads to extreme photosensitivity if used orally.

References

See also

External links

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