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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Holy Italian Parsley (Batman)!

Italian (flat-leaf) Parsley is a staple in Italian and French Cuisine.

It goes everywhere from garnishing potatoes or green vegetables, to stewing in soups or stocks, to flavouring fish and meat.

It is one of my favourite green herbs.  I'd say it's my third favourite.  :)

I love having it around even if it is a pain in the butt to prepare.

The bunches are super cheap, so - if you're like me and don't have the luxury of an herb garden - it's fairly easy to nab one whenever you've got a hankering.

I prefer the flat-leaf over the curly-leaf variety, for a couple reasons.  One, I find (although there is some debate here) flat-leaf parsley to have a stronger, fresher, flavour, whereas the curly-leaf often tastes more spicy and bitter to me.  Secondly, I prefer the appearance of the flat-leaf.  It is usually a darker, richer green, instead of pale green or even yellow.

Many people prefer the curly- variety for garnishing purposes, because it looks 'pretty'.  I disagree.  :)

Anyway... I'm always excited to have a bunch of Italian Parsley in the house, as I am certain to concoct many a tasty meal!

It is a pain to prepare, however, as I said above.

It takes me about 20 minutes to wash, trim and store a small bunch like this.  And almost all of that time is spent meticulously separating the stems from the leaves.  I just put on some good music, and let my mind wander a bit... and soon enough it's all de-stemmed.

Tedious?  Perhaps.  

Time-consuming?  Assuredly.  

Worth it?  Absolutely.

It makes a huge difference, and is an immense boon, to be able to just reach into a plastic bag or container and grab a leaf or two, or even a full handful, and know that it is all washed and trimmed and literally ready-to-go!

It can also be handy to save your stems - if you're one of those people who enjoys using up  every part of food, parsley stems are great for making bouquets-garni and a perfect addition to most soups, stews, and stocks.  

For a while there I went a little crazy-pants on making my own vegetable stock... and I'd keep large bushels of vegetable detritus...

ANYWAY... Italian Parsley is a wonderful herb, lending delightful freshness with a nuanced peppery hint, to any dish.  I am going to make a fresh tomato parsley sauce tonight, and make some steamed parsley peas to go with it.  I imagine there will also be an Alfredo sauce (in which Parsley is absolutely essential) down the line, and possibly even a Carbonara sauce on the weekend?