Parsley isn’t just that curly stuff you used to push around your plate or turn up your nose at. In fact, parsley is one of the “Super Six” stars of the herb world in terms of color, flavor and health benefits that you really don’t want to be without. Each herb, but especially these six, has its own unque personality and degree of sweetness, spiciness and freshness.
Italian parsley, the more common and flavorful of the two kinds, is ubiquitous. You can find it everywhere and in everything, and it is remarkably easy to grow in a pot, even here in the Southwest. Since it’s a leafy herb, it’s tender enough to be tossed raw into salads or added at the last minute to soups or pasta so that it doesn’t lose its color and flavor.
The health benefits of parsley can’t be beat. Let’s start with antioxidants, those helpful things that rid our bodies of those sneaky free radicals. As little as two tablespoons of parsley contain 16% of vitamin C and 12% of vitamin A – two very powerful antioxidants that also help strengthen our immune system. The vitamin C acts as an effective anti-inflammatory agent and when eaten regularly, it helps to fight the onset of inflammatory disorders like osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. That alone should be a major reason to regularly eat parsley. Another big benefit is vitamin K, a whopping 153% in just two tablespoons, which helps to prevent the buildup of calcium in our tissue that may lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Now you know the “ungarnished” truth about parsley. What you may not know is what an uncommonly good flavor and freshness it has. In fact, in many healthy Mediterranean salad recipes, parsley is the central green, not just an after thought.
Here’s a great recipe from Dorothy Rankin’s little gem “Very Pesto” that uses parsley as the primary ingredient and adds all kinds of other healthy herbs to make a pesto that is just lovely added to sauteed veggies, to rustic bread as a spread or rubbed on and under the skin of a chicken you plan to roast.
Mediterranean Pesto – 3/4 cup
- 2 -3 large cloves garlic
- 2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbs chopped fresh summer savory
- 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano (Greek)
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- 6 1/2 tbs olive oil
- salt & pepper
Combine the garlic,rosemary, thyme,savory, oregano, parsley, Parmesan and walnuts in a processor; process to blend. With the machine running, slowing add the oil. Process to desired consistency and season. Let stand for at least 5 ” to let the flavors blend.
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