Often confused with cilantro, parsley is generally a deeper green, it’s lacy leaves are often larger and flatter, and its scent is far more mild. Although many consider parsley to be a garnish, it is a central component to many European and Middle Eastern dishes.
The light, peppery flavor of parsley is perfect for cool summer dishes, such as tabbouleh, bulgur wheat salads, or as a fresh addition to pesto sauces. Toss cauliflower florets with chopped parsley, olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, roast on 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then toss with lemon juice for an easy, nutrient-dense side dish.
Did you know?
Parsley cultivation began about two thousand years ago. Researchers believe that it originated in Sardinia, but it is now commonly used in traditional cooking worldwide. There are two primary types and people tend to strongly prefer one over the other, even engaging in heated debates: curly and Italian. Curly parsley, as its name suggests, is somewhat wrinkled and deeply creased, offering a more interesting visual appeal. With it’s milder – – some would say total lack of – – flavor, it is usually reserved for garnish. The Italian variety has broad, flat leaves and a stronger, more parsley-y flavor. Be sure to pay use exactly what your recipe calls for, since the flavor profiles will be very different.
Know to Grow
Like many herbs, parsley prefers well-drained soil. Mixing sand into your potting soil at around a 2:3 ratio will ensure healthy, aerated roots. The root structures are delicate and temperamental, so it doesn’t transplant well. Seeds are more likely to be successful, but may take up to three weeks to emerge, so be patient and persistent. Soaking them overnight before sowing can help jump start the process. While waiting, keep the soil moist, but not damp or wet.
When green shoots emerge, pinch or cut out any excess sprouts growing too closely together, since pulling them may damage surrounding root structures. Feed with fish emulsion or half-strength liquid fertilizer every two weeks. When the leaf stems have three segments, usually around three weeks after sprouting, they are ready to be harvested. Cut stems from the outer portions, leaving the lower growth to mature and sprout new leaves. Parsley loves strong, bright light. If you grow using sunlight, be sure to pick a bright spot in your garden or window, keeping the plants away from glass to avoid burning the leaves. If using grow lights, it will grow abundantly under ten hours of LED or fluorescent light.
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