What is parsley?
One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and Middle Eastern food. The traditional British choice is curly parsley, but flat-leaf (Continental) parsley is mostly used in recipes today. The flavour is fresh and grassy, and works well in creamy sauces, blended into salsas or pestos, and used as a garnish.
How to prepare parsley
Wash, then chop the leaves either finely (for adding subtle flavour to cooked dishes) or coarsely, for dishes such as salads, for which you want more of a flavour impact. The stalks have a lot of flavour, too, so can be chopped finely and added as well – or use them for making stock.
How to cook parsley
Use parsley in Middle Eastern salads; with basil, to make pesto; add to soups, stews, sauces, meatballs, fishcakes, burgers, salsas and marinades.
Blend into a fresh herb sauce with watercress and walnuts. Serve a grilled tuna with parsley salad for a zingy side, or stir into a pie filling for a hearty chicken, leek & parsley pie. Crab linguine with chilli & parsley is a great restaurant-style dish with minimal ingredients but full-on flavour.
How to store parsley
Fresh cut parsley should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper, and stored in the fridge. It will last for up to three days.
Alternatively, treat like a bunch of flowers and put in a glass of water in the fridge, and changing the water every two days – it can last for up to a week this way. Dried parsley should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It will keep its potency for up to four months.
Choose the best parsley
Go for fresh looking, bright green bunches, with no wilting or discolouration. Curly parsley is darker than the flat-leaf variety, and has a milder taste. Flat-leaf has a more robust (and, some say, better) flavour. They can be used interchangeably, but the fact that flat-leaf is much easier to clean (the curly type can trap lots of dirt in its frilly leaves) swings it for some people. Dried parsley is also available, but its flavour doesn’t match up to the real thing.
Alternatives to parsley
Try dill or chervil.