Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Italian parsley (sometimes known as flat-leaf parsley) is a green herb with serrated leaves and a clean, slightly peppery taste. It has flat leaves and grows to a height of one and half feet (4cm). While many are familiar with curly leafed parsley, which often shows up as garnish in restaurants, you may not be equally familiar with the flatter-leafed Italian parsley, a close cousin. Although there are more than 30 varieties of parsley, Italian Parsley is favoured by both professional cooks and home chefs alike because it contains significantly more of the essential oils that make up the parsley taste. It looks a little like coriander, so don't get them muddled up. Flat-leaved parsley has leaves with sharp points, whereas the leaves of coriander are rounded.

Usually sold in bunches, Italian parsley should be bright green with no wilting. Avoid Italian parsley with bruised or limp leaves or with flowering buds which makes it very bitter.

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 flavour than coriander. You will find it in every kind of cooking, from sauces to soups and is particularly wonderful eaten fresh in salads. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and the minerals, iron and calcium; although it is unlikely that anyone would consume enough qualities that would make a significant contribution to their health. Parsley is said to be a diuretic and a stimulant; it combats scurvy and intestinal problems, stimulates the appetite, and aids digestion. Parsley oil is sometimes used in perfumes and soaps, and parsley juice has been used as an insecticide.

This particular herb grows best in a mostly sunny location with relatively rich, moist well drained soil. It also grows well in deep pots, which helps accommodate the long taproot. If grown indoors it requires at least five hours of sunlight a day and will make seeds in its second year. It tends to self-seed once it is started. Plant new Italian Parsley seedlings every spring.

Parsley is susceptible to downy mildew, so give it enough space for good air circulation.

Use in Cooking

Italian parsley intensifies the flavours of other herbs and can be included in any dish using herbs for a fuller, richer flavour. Mince Italian parsley and add to buttered, boiled potatoes. Add whole sprigs of it to tomato sauces for the last 20 minutes of cooking and remove before service. Mince Italian parsley very finely along with fresh oregano and basil and add to breadcrumbs to use for coating veal, pork or poultry scallops. On the other hand if you're making vegetable, chicken or beef stock, adding a bunch of Italian parsley will provide excellent flavour.

Combine one stick of butter at room temperature with two tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (leaves do not have to be chopped perfectly but you want to make them small enough that you don't just get a whole mouthful of leaf) and two tablespoons lemon juice to make the classic Maitre d' hotel butter to use on steaks, fish, vegetables and breads. Briefly boil Italian parsley leaves, drain, and sauté in olive oil and serve as a side dish.

Parsley doesn't hold up well to cooking, so add it to cooked dishes at the very last

What does it go with?

The fresh flavour of green parsley goes extremely well with potato dishes (French fries, boiled buttered potatoes or mashed potato), and with rice dishes (risotto). It also goes well with fish, fried chicken, lamb or goose, steaks, meat or vegetable stews. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups, green salads or on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés.

Discover the flavour of flat leave parsley and find a new world,

The Author:

Kath Ibbetson has a BSc, a diploma in aromatherapy and a certificate in counselling. But most of all she is a mother and an enthusiastic Italian cook. Italian food is her passion and she has been cooking it for 30 years. Visit her site FoodTheItalianWay.com

Photo Credit: Pioneerthinking.com

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com

Article Posted: June 30, 2012

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