What’s the Deal with Parsley?

Pictured is young flat-leaf Italian parsley growing in our garden.

A friend of mine recently confided that she rarely bought parsley, and had none in her garden, because she really didn’t know what to do with it. Believe me, I get it. For many of us, parsley is that curly green garnish that comes on the plate in cafeteria food that’s mostly there for looks. Why would you eat that? And all these recipes that call for one measly tablespoon of chopped parsley? What’s the point? Why buy a whole bunch just for one tablespoon?

Here’s the deal. Parsley brightens flavors. It adds balance to savory dishes the way that a little lemon juice can make something just taste better. Parsley is a mild “bitter”. The tastebuds on your tongue can distinguish 5 tastes – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Salty and sweet are obvious. Sour you get from acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Umami has to do with the savory taste of protein. Bitter you get from citrus zest, bitter greens like kale, mustard greens, arugula, and parsley. Well balanced dishes stimulate all or most of these taste receptors. Adding parsley to a stew doesn’t make the stew taste like parsley, but will make the stew taste more balanced, if it doesn’t already have a bitter in it.

When I first started cooking I would get annoyed at buying a bunch of parsley for a recipe and then not knowing what to do with the rest of it. Now I look out at our garden that I just planted with 12 parsley plants for my parents, and 6 for me, and I’m hoping that that’s enough. Almost every savory dish tastes better with a little chopped parsley either cooked in or sprinkled over the top. (By the way, flat-leaf Italian parsley works better for cooking than the curly parsley. Don’t ask me why, it just does.) The best thing about growing parsley plants? Bugs and slugs typically stay away from them. They are biennials, so in mild climates, a plant will live for two years. The plants over-winter well, at least here in California. The frost just seems to make them happy.

Parsley is also good for digestion. As with other bitter herbs, parsley stimulates appetite and your digestive tract. Years ago I learned that you could ask a bartender for bitters to help settle your stomach if you were out to eat and your stomach needed settling (you know what I mean). That concoction is not made with parsley, but with other bitter essences, but the effect is the same. Bitters help digestion.

What to do if you truly have too much parsley hanging around? I recommend making chimichurri, a South American condiment like pesto, that is made with parsley, garlic, oil and vinegar, which is terrific with steak. Or you could just make parsley pesto, and serve it over pasta.

Do you have a favorite dish where parsley is the star ingredient? Please let us know about it in the comments.

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  • Alexandra

    I live in Sweden, and parsley is very popular here as it has been able to grow here well for 100s of years. However, I don’t like parsley. I don’t find it tasty at all. Do you who like parsley enjoy putting a piece of parsley in your mouth or like the smell of it? I still don’t understand what is the deal with parsley.
    I would like more info on what to do when I encounter a recipe with parsley. Do I substitute it? With what? What type of situations do I still add it because I can count on the taste not being distinguishable.
    I mean I do realise that with some foods you have to cook a certain dish to understand how a particular food can mesh well and come to it own right, like how green peppars work in piccadillo. Or how green beans are actually edible all of a sudden when sesame oil and seeds are added.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Alexandra, I would say chop it finely and let it blend in with the rest of the dish. Parsley acts as a bitter to brighten all of the other flavors. Another thing you can do is substitute with young arugula.

  • jujueJuice

    Parsley can easy be stored and kept fresh in the fridge. At day 7 it’s as fresh and crisp as at day one. How?

    Cut the stems back one cm and place it in a glass jar with enough water to Just submerge the stems a little. Add about a 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt and place a plastic bag over the bunch covering the lot, all way down to include the glass jar. Place it at the bottom shelf in your fridge or fridge door. Enjoy fresh, crisp parsley for the entire week. (check the water every second day. If it turns too cloudy, change it.

  • Lyn

    Parsley is easy to freeze. The internet abounds with directions. I live in the north where parsley will freeze over the winter. When temps drop to high 40’s overnight I wrap a length of row cover several times around the parsley. Use clothespins to anchor the end of the row cover. Lay a double folded piece of row cover over the top and tuck it down into the side wrapping. Clothespin the two pieces at intervals. While parsley may freeze it doesn’t know it isn’t in the freezer and can be used most of the winter. Next year, in cold country, plant one parsley plant in the most sheltered spot in your garden, like a southwest facing corner, and you will have a parsley supply for most of the winter. When it yellows use your freezer stash.

  • Christopher

    Eric, you can tell the difference. It’s not the fact of tasting The Parsley itself but that the parsley helps balance out the flavors. It took me awhile to figure this out as well. For instance, I just made a dish there was a little bit too bold but the parsley balanced things out; without the parsley, it would have been a little bit much going on.

  • Eric

    I’ve always wanted to do a taste test with people who swear by parsley and create two dishes, one with and one without parsley and see if they can tell the difference. I think it’s all in one’s head. To me, it’s a nearly tasteless addition when you have so many other flavors going on.

  • Liz Woodward

    That was very informative. Thank you. I use it in a salad dressing I make all the time that was on the side of a STAR white wine vinegar recipe.
    Italian Vinaigrette:
    1/4 cup star white wine vinegar
    3/4 cup olive oil
    2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    4 garlic cloves minced
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    2 tsp dried basil
    1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
    1/4 tsp dried oregano
    salt and pepper to taste
    Combine, stir and enjoy!
    It is so yummy.
    But now, with so much parsley left over, that’s what prompted me to inquire more about it.

  • Gia Piro

    I use a TON of parsley in my Turkey burgers. Along with a couple of handfuls of grated parmasian and Romano cheeses, salt, fresh ground pepper and red pepper flakes. Extremely tasty burgers ☺️

  • vicki

    Parsley is a natural diuretic, a cup of parsley tea will help reduce the water retention after I’ve gone out to a restaurant or eating fast food. Steep a frew springs in hot water and enjoy!

  • John

    I put it in my tom yum soup

  • Kiana

    I am Persian so we eat parsley mint green onions radishes basil and a few more vegetables instead of salad with our meals. Fresh and raw. Also there is ghormeh sabzi, my favorite Persian food.

  • mark

    I was raised eating this stuff in everthing, my Granmother used root parsley in chicken soup,it adds a flavor that reminds me of back then, I grow it now ,it’s hard to find seed but am using Hamburg Rooted from Reimer seed co, a pain to get started but worth the it. can also use the flat leaves off the plant
    Going to try this recipe looks good

  • jt

    I make a green smoothie. 1/2 to 1 bunch parsley, 1 mango (or other orange colored fruit), and blend until smooth. You will actually enjoy this sweet and very healthy drink.

  • LadyJayPee

    I’m happy to have learned that slugs don’t like it; I grow it in pots, but think I need to use it as a border around my lettuce and other greens to keep the slugs away. Thanks!

  • brooklynite

    This was seriously informative – thank you.

  • Debbi

    Good to know on the parsley! I often put it in but I didn’t really know WHY either! I’ll probably add it more often now, Thanks!

  • J L Schroeder

    Another simple way to “get” parsley.
    To a cup of cooked hot plain white noodles (pick your shape) add 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley. Stir to mix, salt to taste and enjoy.
    A light bulb will go off!

  • Melissa

    Parsley is also very high in vitamin C, a great supplement to your year-round intake.
    (so many great recipes. You should make a new post rephrasing them all!)

  • Upstate NY

    We have the opposite problem of everyone else, it seems–we never have enough! I’m Turkish and in our cuisine parsley is VERY prevalent. We use it in salads and couscous very often. Also, I don’t ever remember a time that we made kofte, which is like little hamburgers or flattened meatballs, without parsley. When you add the parsley to the ground beef it really brightens the flavor and makes it taste a bit fresher.

    I live in upstate NY and we have a lot growing in our yard too. During the winter when we have to buy it, we never buy just one bunch, always at least two and we go through it pretty fast. And we don’t buy the curly one either, we always get the flat.

    By the way—did you know parsley is a natural breath freshner? It really really works!

  • Iza Cardone

    Look at this! It’s caserole of sliced potatoes, granted carrot, cut in cubes sausage and bacon, with huge dose of ground black pepper and parsley beetwen every layer, baked for 1 hour in 180C. Absolutely delicious. I didn’t like parsley at all, only in this dish. I tried add it also to coleslaw, with succes, I recomend it :) BR

  • m.a.r

    Tabbouleh of course! It’s the yummiest way to use your parsley, it’s the only recipe I know that calls for 3 bunches of parsley to serve 3-4 people!

  • gretchen

    Parsley is also great in scrambled eggs: just chop it up and stir it in as the eggs are beginning to set. Delicious! You can then top the scrambled eggs with a tiny shred of parmesan if you like.

  • Susan

    I just posted a small rant on parsley on my blog too! It smells and tastes like a healthy life. Yum!

    • jujueJuice

      Try beetroot leaves next time. I love them and – they are super healthy. Rich on vitamin A, B and K. They also consist of the very important cardiovascular Glycerine Betaine, anti cancer fighting and antioxidants carrying Flavonoids like; Beta Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and other. Eating one serve, they provide you with about 10% of your daily needed sodium and 15% of dietary Fibre, offer plentiful minerals like, magnesium, calcium, copper and other. You wouldn’t believe the truckloads of health benefits that are packed in that humble beet greens which most people perhaps just dump (same with parsely) … Sigh

  • Sally

    I’ve always loved parsley! It’s the herb I use most frequently and I nearly always have some in the refrigerator. It goes in or on many things I cook. The most used things in my kitchen are olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley and lemon juice/zest.

  • Barbara

    First of all parsley leaves are one of the best source of iron. If you are anemic or lost a lot of blood during surgery the best thing to do is to eat a bunch of parsley leaves every day to obtain the right level of hemoglobin.

  • philps

    The person named C who eats his parsley after a meal in a restaurant, he doesn’t know that parsley sits in a bowl of water in the kitchen with a piece of ice to keep it green and fresh looking. If the resturant has 50 waiters, each time they take a piece to put on the plate their grubby hand goes in the water. I’m a wiater it’s ugly but the boss wants to make the plate look nice. THINK IT OVER It’s like slice of orange you get with your breakfast plate. It’s cut the day before. Sometimes the places I worked at, all famous, most had rats and roaches, and recycled the food, bread, butter, etc. It’s true.

  • Chandrika

    I use parsley or cilantro in almost everything. As you said, it brightens the flavor.

    Recently, I made a green sauce using parsley and pumpkin seed. It can be spread over a slice of bread or tortilla espanola (Spanish omelet) or any omelet. Here is the recipe.

    Pumpkin seed green sauce

    1 cup of toasted pumpkin seed

    1 cup of fresh parsley or cilantro

    1/2 cup fresh mint

    1 tsp chopped jalapeno

    1 garlic clove

    1 tsp lemon zest

    Juice of 1 lemon

    Salt and Pepper

    1/2 cup olive oil

    1/2 cup home made chicken stock or water

    Put all the ingredients except oil and chicken stock in the food processor. The stream in olive oil. You can thin out the sauce using water or chicken stock.

  • Sharon

    I am a recent parsley addict and especially love it in spaghetti sauce or minced and sprinkled over Chicken Marsala. But my favorite recipe is one that I tried at the Royal in Playa del Carmen and the chef was kind enough to share.

    1 cup couscous, cooked in chicken stock according to package directions
    1 tomatoe, finely chopped
    1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, minced
    Parsley, minced
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    I started out with considerably less parsley than I use now because the more you eat it the more you want! If you’re just learning to eat parsley, then go light and add as your taste dictates.

  • Judy

    We do a lot of juicing at our house, and my favorite recipe is:
    6 apples (a mix of tart and sweet)
    6 carrots
    ginger root (2 inch piece, peeled)
    1 good-sized beet
    a handful of parsley

    So good! The kids love it a LOT and it’s super healthy.

    Also, try substituting parsley for half of the basil in your favorite pesto recipe. It tastes really fresh.

  • NYCook

    Parslied potatoes, tabbouleh, kufta, falafel and a Middle Eastern salad we call “Leila’s salad”: All very finely chopped: Lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onion, jalapenos, Persian cucumbers and TONS of PARSLEY! Salt, fresh squeezed lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil as the dressing. Yum!!

  • Lulu

    I adore parsley and use it in just about everything without even thinking twice.

    Parsley and eggs are an amazing pair. I add it to my omelettes. I sprinkle it inside, along with whatever else is going in the omelette. Tomato, onion and parsley with some mozzarella is a favorite. So good.

  • sb

    Bugs and slugs may stay away from them, but not groundhogs/woodchucks! Last year, they ate all my parsley! I’ll have to plant this years in planters high off the ground.

    Never knew about being used to freshen breath!

  • Pam

    I love the Italian flat leaf parsley and grow it in a hanging basket on my patio in San Diego, CA. It’s great in all salads and dressings.

  • Barbi

    Not only is Parsley great for freshening your breath, it’s also great for freshening your garbage disposal. When I find that bunch of Parsley in the back of the fridge that I forgot about and is past its prime; rather than throw it away, I grind it up in the garbage disposal. Leaves a fresh clean scent behind. Lemons and Baking Soda are great at deodorizing the garbage disposal as well. I always grind up lemon rinds after I have used the juice in recipes. “Waste not, want not”, as my Mother taught me.

  • Giovanni

    Parsley, key ingredient for mussels/clams in white wine sauce with chopped garlic… Delicious!!! Also, try chopping some parsley very fine and adding it to your frittata.. what a difference!!! Definitely use garlic for meatballs!!!!!

  • Susan

    I love to make fresh pasta. After the sheet is 2 dials from the width you want stick a few parsly leaves in it (somehat like how you would press flowers in a paper towel as a kid), fold it in half and continue to roll to desired width. The leaves will stretch and split as the sheet gets thinner. Not only does it look cool it actually adds flavor. Add a few herbs and you have a great base for any lighter sauced pasta recipe.

  • Terence Riley

    Dear Elise, big deal!!!
    Moved to Las Vegas 21 years ago, love to cook.
    My CA Lady put a teaspoon of sauce on first time now she covers the plate.
    Salmon we like tinned, potato & a brown onion boiled, fresh parsley & milk in the blender,
    thickened in a saucspan with a knob of butter,
    mash the potato & onion.
    Bon appetit. England!

  • Lisa_S

    I forgot the EVO! Here’s the complete recipe:

    Dill and Parsley Salad Dressing

    I found this recipe in Parenting magazine. It makes the whole salad taste like it all just came from the garden. This makes a small batch so you may want to double or triple it. This does not keep more than a day so make what you will use up quickly. And measurements here are approximations as I just eyeball the amounts.

    1 Lemon
    2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinagrette (you can omit this, just use more lemon juice)
    2-3 hearty sprigs of fresh dill
    3-4 hearty sprigs of fresh flat Italian parsley
    2-3 garlic toes
    1/2-1 teaspoon sugar (or a few Stevia leaves, or 1 packet stevia extract)
    2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    dash of salt and pepper.

    Squeeze the juice from the lemon. Add lemon juice into your chopper and add in the rest of the ingredents as well. Process until it looks like salad dressing.

  • Angie

    Great article! I see I don’t use parsley nearly enough

  • jacobwhammock

    How about chef Fergus Henderson’s roast bone marrow and parsley salad?

  • Lisa_S

    Dill and Parsley Salad Dressing

    I found this recipe in Parenting magazine. It makes the whole salad taste like it all just came from the garden. This makes a small batch so you may want to double or triple it. This does not keep more than a day so make what you will use up quickly. And measurements here are approximations because I just eyeball the amounts.

    1 Lemon
    2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinagrette (you can omit this, just use more lemon juice)
    2-3 hearty sprigs of fresh dill
    3-4 hearty sprigs of fresh flat Italian parsley
    2-3 garlic toes
    1/2-1 teaspoon sugar (or a few Stevia leaves, or 1 packet stevia extract)

    Squeeze the juice from the lemon. Add lemon juice into your chopper and add in the rest of the ingredents as well. Process until it looks like salad dressing.

  • Sherihan

    I used to think like that before but when I really got into cooking that changed, you can add parsley to almost everything, it adds this attractive green color to the food, it smells great and it adds Something extra to the taste.

  • Ken Broadhurst

    Oh, and did anybody mention “snail butter”? It’s melted butter with parsley and garlic, and it’s essential with … snails. Or frogs’ legs.

    Excellent, thank you! I love escargot. My buddy Hank keeps promising to come over here to harvest the snails that are in residence in my agapanthus (it’s a snail hotel that plant) for that purpose. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure if we ever do make it, we’ll use a lot of parsley with the butter. ~Elise

  • Ken Broadhurst

    I was going to jump in with the French jambon persillé — chunks of ham in aspic with lots and lots of parsley in it. It’s a Burgundian specialty. But then I saw taboulleh, and realized that somebody else had thought of the quintessential parsley dish.

  • Abby

    I love parsley and grow it in the garden, so I never had a problem putting it in any dish, but I never actually knew what it was there for. I thought it was for colour actually.

  • Tea

    Have you seen this method for freezing parsley? (the log). I’ve been using parsley from my garden, preserved this way, all winter long.

    Of course, with your climate, it might not be an issue:

    Brilliant, thanks Tea! ~Elise

  • Fran

    I think my love for parsley came from a restaurant we used to frequent when I lived in the Philippines. It was a Lebanese place — little hole in the wall and they served Fattoush — a salad with parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and crispy pita bread pieces. I’d go there for the Fattoush and Hummos if nothing else and ever since I’ve been using parsley to make Fattoush and with so much to spare I always find more uses.

    It makes me happy that it lasts so long too. Most herbs are so fragile — at least for me. If I could get cilantro to last as long I’d be very happy.

  • T. Ellsworth

    When I buy a bunch of parsley, I use it fresh for a couple days and then I wash the rest very thoroughly, squeeze it dry in a paper towel, chop it fine and put it in the freezer. I use the frozen parsley flakes in soups and stews or any recipe that requires cooking the parsley. No waste this way.

  • Marcia

    To me, cilantro tastes like soap, so I use parsley instead. I have 3 flat leaf new plants in my garden and plenty of curly that reseeded from last year. Here in ATL it overwinters as do most all herbs except dill and basil.

    I add it to salads, parslied potatoes, added to pesto sometimes, and just eat it as a garnish. I add the stems to a pot of chicken stock in the making. Parsley and garlic butter is good on most anything; even pasta.

    I keep extra in the freezer, along with chives, thyme, and dill. Flat or curly is useful.

  • Wm. Joiner

    Storing Parsley? Rinse fresh Parsley, chop it, store in a freezer bag in the freezer and you’ll always have fresh Parsley readily available.

  • Alix

    I almost never use a whole bunch of parsley so I freeze what’s left before it spoils and use it to make veggie stock. I keep a plastic bag of onion and carrot ends in the freezer, and add parsley to that and when it’s full, I make stock with it. That way it never goes to waste!

  • Benj

    Someone may have already mentioned this and it may be a bit of an old wives tale, but parsley is a good antidote for garlic breath. A neutraliser like vanilla in your mop bucket.

  • Ramon

    Who can not like parsley???
    It is one of the most delectable and versatile herbs.
    Peruvian cuisine (a world class cuisine today!!!) uses it and Cilantro.
    Bon appetite,

  • Sharon

    I used to make pesto with flat-leaf parsley, also butter in place of olive oil. It’s great!

  • Heather

    People don’t use parsely? That’s news to me. I’ve been adding it to stuff since I figured out how to cook and always have the dried stuff on hand, if not fresh. No chicken soup is complete without it, it’s great tossed on baked fish with some paprika and lemon slices, and evens out tomato sauce. Maybe it’s because I’m from a very Italian area?

  • IsabellA

    I have always chopped and frozen my parsley, it tastes fresh and I don’t waste. I actually do this with scallions, mint, etc. Works great. Parsley is God. :)

  • Sara

    Since everyone is sharing parsley recipes… made a white bean and parsley hummus last night. Amazing, was eating it plain with a spoon! Substitute any white bean (I used cannellini) for garbanzos and add about a cup of parsley to your normal hummus recipe. Or follow this…

    1 16 oz can of white beans
    1/4 cup liquid from can of beans
    3-5 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
    1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
    2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup parsley

    That sounds great, thanks! ~Elise

  • Susan

    I was, and still am sometimes, one that doesn’t get parsley. I’ve learned to use it when I use garlic or other seasonings that have a strong flavor or that render natural oils including seeds used for flavoring, like fennel or dill. It seems to mellow the after taste. It’s included in so many different recipes, heavily and mildly seasoned alike, and in such a random amounts, even in many of the same-name recipes, that it’s hard to get a sense of why it’s an important ingredient. It doesn’t have a strong distinguishing flavor especially in small amounts, so I can’t figure out it’s inclusion other than as a garnish. Maybe there should be a science (as well as to taste) in the use of some herbs in cooking. It’d be nice to know the whys and hows of certain combinations.

  • Carrie

    I hate parsley, or as my mom would have me say, I don’t care for parsley. I love cilantro, a lot! As a matter of fact, I get annoyed when recipes say something like, “if you don’t like cilantro, substitute parsley”. No one ever does that substitution the other way around.

  • Peggy

    I love parsley. Grow it every year in my garden and herb flower box outside my kitchen door, so I can use it whenever I wish. I’m not sure what the big hipe is over the flat leaf italian. I use the curly and just love the flavor. It works great in pesto instead of basil, which seeems a bit overpowering to me. I also harvest it all summer long,wash it, pull leaves off and process it to chop fine, put in freezer bags and use year round in all kinds of receipes. Try it its just great!

  • Laura

    I love fresh parsley chopped in a vegatable soup. Any other Weight Watcher cooks out there know what a boost it gives to the cabbage soup recipe.

  • kathryn

    Most every morning I have a green shake for breakfast with spinach, soymilk, water, a banana, and an apple. Whenever I have parsley, I throw a good amount in. It always adds a nice flavor. I was reading in Time magazine recently about the great health benefits of parsley, so your post has good timing!

  • Nicole

    One of my favorite ways to use parsley is by making green goddess dressing. Deborah Madison has a great recipe in her book, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” So perfect right now with young lettuce and radishes. I keep both flat-leaved and curly in the yard and use them quite often. A tasty and versatile herb!

  • Alison

    Wow, thanks. Mystery solved! I was just contemplating parsley this morning, wondering whether it was worth buying a bunch of it to add a bit to my chicken soup. Seems I made the wrong choice. ;-) I’ll know better next time.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman

    Wow, great ideas for parsley! I typically alternate back and forth between parsley and cilantro depending on what kind of mood I am in at the grocery store, but I have one or the other in my fridge pretty much all of the time. Fresh herbs add such a nice flavor pop to everything.

  • Jimmt

    I make a delicious appetizer where parsley is the main ingredient. Take a bunch of Curley leaf parsley, purée in food processor with a few cloves of garlic, a few tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of a lemon and salt and pepper. Serve spread over crustinis with an anchovy on top, or as a dip. Effing delicious and very popular at parties.

  • sarah

    Parsley goes great with Italian dishes. I use it for Cheese Manicotta and incorporate a couple handfuls of chopped parsley in the mixture to fill the noodles. It adds another dimension of flavor to a basically cheesy dish.

  • Keli

    While it only calls for a 1/3 of a cup of flat-leaf parsley, I love this (http://themarzberrypig.wordpress.com/category/look-at-that/) meatloaf recipe from Giada De Larurentiis. It’s an easy dish that packs a lot of flavor. And, even if you can’t taste the parsley, it does add aesthetic appeal.

  • S

    Parsley is the star in my house this season. A simple dressing of parsley, lemon juice and olive oil has gone on everything from beans to tomatoes to crusty bread. It freshens and brightens every dish. My six year old cannot get enough of it and has grown her own herb garden to keep a fresh supply on hand.

  • Cheri

    I love, LOVE making a vinaigrette from equal parts jarred red pepper, pitted kalamata olives (Trader Joe’s has jars of both of these at very reasonable prices) and parsley. Chop them all up very fine, add a little garlic (actually I use garlic powder for this, since I don’t like getting a jolt of the raw stuff) a little onion powder (same reason), some red wine vinegar and some olive oil. Salt to taste. This is absolutely the very best way to have halibut–the fish is sweet, and in big enough flakes that the vinaigrette doesn’t overpower it, the flavors are perfect together. Of course, I could (and do) make double and use it for crostini and everything else I can find.

  • Haley J.

    Many thanks for giving parsley its due! When I have an overabundance of parsley, I love to make tabbouleh. It’s delicious, especially with grilled meats. With some good bread, a nice sized serving makes a good lunch, too.

  • chris

    I have a great salad I make with parsley featured almost as a salad green.

    1 large bunch flat parsley
    1 baseball sized head of radicchio
    1 15 oz can (2 cups cooked) small white beans
    2 tbs capers
    3 tbs olive oil
    1 tbs balsamic vinegar
    salt & pepper to taste

    Strip the leaves off the parsley stems.
    Shred the radicchio into thin strips (1/8″ wide) as though you are making coleslaw.
    Mix beans, parsley and radicchio in a bowl.
    Add capers, oil & vinegar.
    Mix it all up – add more vinegar to taste if needed (I usually kind of wing it with the vinegar – sometimes a little more tastes right to me, other times not…)
    Salt & Pepper to taste.

    This salad is good, if a little beaten-down looking, after it has sat in the fridge overnight too.

  • doodles

    One way we eat flat leaf parsley is with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, sometimes throw in cannellini beans, a good vinaigrette, S & P. Nice summer salad.

  • Dio

    I’m a huge fan of Green Goddess dressing/sauce, especially in the summer time, and it’s a great use for left-over parsley. If you omit the extra vinegar it calls for, it makes a great sauce for pasta salad or casserole. And if you want to richen up the flavor even more, you can replace some of the mayonnaise it calls for with avocado. Delicious!

  • yeti

    Parsley is often used as an aromatic vegetable (like onion, garlic and celery) in Greek cuisine – it’s sauteed with onions in plenty of olive oil for flavour, not for colour. This forms the basis of many Greek dishes like any vegetables stuffed with rice/mince like gemista, imam, papoutsaki and a lot more. You could also add dill or spearmint (but not dill and spearmint together) with parsley for some dishes. It adds depth to the flavour – subtle not intense, nothing like the flavour of fresh parsley.

  • Cooking with Michele

    Once I really learned how to cook, I really learned how important it is to have parsley on hand all the time. I grow it in the summer, and sometimes grow it in a pot in the winter. But when I buy it at the grocery I’ve found it will last literally for weeks if you trim the bottom of the stems like you would flowers, put it into a vase or glass of water, and store it like this in the refrigerator. Also works for cilantro!

  • Tracy

    It’s hard for me to think of a dish that we make that doesn’t have parsley. We hammer the hell out of every bunch we get. We’re constantly buying it, growing it and eat it. :) In fact I have to go buy a bunch today. Thanks for the reminder!

  • snowy

    I decided this year to plant both parsley and cilantro in my herb garden for the first time, given that the price of a start for either is really not much more than buying a bunch of it. It’s rare that I need a whole bunch of the stuff, and hate to see the rest of the bunch go to waste. I figure growing it myself will allow me to use what I need when I need it without waste.

  • Christine

    Soup and tabbouleh! Any kind of broth will live up with parsley, and tabbouleh can’t live without it.
    My standard is to freeze any remaining parsley finally chopped in a container and take from there as needed.

  • [email protected]

    We use a lot more cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish in place of Parsley. They are supposed to be from the same family but taste different as the cilantro doesn’t have the bitter edge.

    We make a dish completely out of the cilantro. You can easily substitute with parsley if you like its taste better. Blanch the leaves in a pot of boiling water and puree. Meanwhile, saute some onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes with cumin, tumeric, chilli powder. Add some peas and cook till almost soft. Add the cilantro/parsley puree and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes. Salt to taste and it’s done!

  • Big A

    Parsely is essential when we make Spanish tapas at our house. Gambas al ajillo just wouldn’t be the same without it.

  • Chris

    I planted parsley in my garden for the first time this spring, and I find myself using it more frequently than I ever expected. But I haven’t quite figured out the best way to prune the plant yet, and advice?

    Yes. I would pick and discard any yellowing leaves. Then pick the largest outer leaves for cooking; doing so will encourage growth. When the plant eventually starts to bolt, keep cutting the bolting stem. The natural life of these plants is two years, after which the plant wants to bolt. The leaves at this point will get more bitter. So once the plant does start to bolt, you really don’t have much time left with the plant, so it’s time to plant some more. ~Elise

  • Renee

    Parsley is great! I like to add a few sprigs inside a chicken before roasting. It’s also good to add to chicken soup right before serving. It contains a lot of nutrients, so add as much as you like! My sister makes fun of me because I use so much of it!

  • Barbara

    Great post, Elise. And thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. I always check your blog for ideas. Your quesadilla pie has become a staple!

    I think that one reason people don’t use parsley that much is because the store bought type is always so tough. The stems are pretty much unusable and the leaves lack the delicacy of fresh parsley from the garden. I grow at least two types of parsley, usually Italian flat leaf and Japanese.

    And as an avid herb grower, I use parsley in many, many recipes. Off the top of my head, two that work really well are coleslaw and herbal spreads. I use parsley along with cilantro in my Asian-inspired coleslaw and parsley and onions in my regular American style buttermilk coleslaw. I make an herb spread using many different types of herbs from the garden (parsley, basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, marjoram and oregano and whatever looks good)mixed with garlic, onion cream cheese and sour cream. It’s wonderful and tastes like the garden.

    In CT, we rely on herbs and greens early in the season while we wait for the vegetables, so it’s such a treat to eat this herb spread. It smells like springtime!

  • Marion Reeves

    I agree with most on this link – Parsley adds tremendously to many different dishes and I love the smell and taste. I use it a lot in soups.
    I came up with this quick storage fix when you don’t know what to do with bundles of parsley from your garden (they are also great as decorative plants in pots and beds).
    Blend it very fine only using as little water as possible and pour it into a dish to be flash frozen. Once firm break it apart and store it in a bag in the freezer. Anytime I want to add flavor to stews and soups I take a few parsley ice chips!

  • Maggie Patterson

    Lima beans are just plain bland without TONS of parsley. With parsley and butter, lima beans become a treat not to be missed!

  • Caroline

    I’m envious of your ability to grow fresh parsley! Having no natural light, I’ve tried and failed and resigned myself to buying it from the store.

  • Kimberly

    I think I must be super sensitive to parsley. I really hate the way it tastes–it just tastes bitter and nasty to me and it always bugs me when it’s sprinkled raw on top of stuff. Oddly, I have no problem with cilantro.

  • Sirena

    Tabbouleh, tabbouleh, tabbouleh.

    The most beautiful and refreshing summer salad. Diced fine, with summer tomatoes, garden scallions, quinoa (or burgul, for purists) tons of lemon juice and olive oil. Add diced apple, or wild rice, for variety. Dice the parsley as fine as can be for parsley haters.

    Blanch parsley, and add it to any cooked veggie soup for that uber-green look you get in restaurants – brightens your asparagus, kale, etc… soups with a dose of chlorophyll brightness.

    Is a star stand-in in any dish that features cilantro, for cilantro haters.

    Dice and use it with cheese, cubed bread, thyme, garlic as a stuffing for summer veggies, potatoes, etc….

    I planted 8 flat-leaf parsley plants this summer. Can you tell we adore it in our middle eastern-mexican household?

  • Jackie

    Thanks for this topic! I have what I call a “parsley tree” in about a 10 inch terra cota pot because I swear its “trunk” is about an inch and a half around! We’ve repotted it a few times and I was trying to remember how old it is, and it must be at least two years old. At one point in its life, maybe after a Florida cold spell, it looked pretty shabby so I gave it an extreme trim, and it bounded back with a vengence. It’s still going strong, and I use cuttings from it on almost a daily basis. I’ll have to try to make taboulleh or chimichurri sauce.

  • Meg

    Parsley is wonderful for cleansing the palate. If you ate too much roasted garlic pizza on your date, and you’re hopeful for a goodnight kiss, then definitely eat some parsley. It is a main ingredient in many breath freshening tablets!

  • Alexandra

    Parsley definitely makes things brighter. A while back I discovered that it makes a huge difference whether I use fresh or dried parsley in my spaghetti sauce, as a matter of fact, dried parsley doesn’t really do anything.
    If I don’t have parsley in my garden and have to buy a bunch, I use what I can and then wash, dry the water off, chop and freeze the rest – it preserves the flavor and is very easy to use for sauces, stews, etc, when fresh is not available.

  • pamppopovich

    Parsely is a natural breath freshener. Just chew it up after your meal and no bad “after meal breath” ! It is the chlorophyl that is the key.

  • Chad Dore

    I just started regularly adding dehydrated parsley flakes to most of my cooked dishes and I really notice a difference in flavor, much more so than I would have expected. The way I would describe it is “rounding out” the overall flavor, which makes sense according to your article. I’m definitely going to get some plants going.

  • Rae

    I did a goat cheese and mushroom flatbread for an app yesterday and put parsley on top to brighten the flavors and give it some extra color. My boyfriend turned up his nose and said: Parsley doesn’t taste like anything.

    I say Parsley needs love too!

  • Melissa

    I love parsley, I may not buy it all the time. But some dishes just have to have it, like meatballs and sauce. They just aren’t the same without it!

  • Linda

    I always mix a little chopped parsely in my mashed potatoes for color. It just brightens up the whole plate. And I love the mix of lemon zest, parsely and chopped garlic to sprinkle on top of osso bucco.

  • Barbara Bakes

    Great post. Good to know parsley doesn’t mind the cold weather, I planted mine too early and although it looked like it survived the frost, I just wasn’t sure.

  • April

    Kufta is a lovely dish that uses TONS of curly parsley. It’s a family favorite. I have a chicken curry recipe too that uses a lot of curly parsley. Before I started making these dishes, I didn’t get parsley either, but now I love it!

  • Amy

    In Piemonte (maybe all over Italy, but I’m not sure), they say that someone or something is “come il prezzemolo” or “like parsley” to mean that they/it are EVERYWHERE. My piemontese mother in law puts parsley in almost everything she makes!

    If you’re feeling adventurous, find a recipe for “salsa verde” or Italian Green Sauce — all the goodness of garlic, parsley, olive oil, and just the right amount of little hot red peppers. It seems similar to your Chimichurri, but with fewer ingredients. We put it on bread, anchovies, cooked pork loin, etc. Good stuff, and it keeps in the fridge for use as a condiment when you need something tangy!

  • Katrina

    I’ve always wondered what parsley was really for! Thanks for clearing it up!

  • stacey snacks

    Parsley: I couldn’t live without it!
    I have a big parsley plant in my potted herb garden and I use it so much, I have to replant it mid season.
    but let’s talk cilantro……..Chinese parsley! You love it or hate it, and I LOVE it!
    Yay for fresh herbs!

  • Ali

    I love tabbouleh! I’ve heard that you should eat the parsley garnish on your plate, as it’s a natural breath freshener.

  • Wendy

    I love parsley, I didn`t realize people didn`t eat or use parsley. If tabbouleh is on the menu, then its definitely gonna be in my plate!

    I put it in most pasta sauces, and always throw some into my salads!

  • Carla

    I have always heard that the reason parsley is served along with food in restaurants is because it freshens your breath. You are supposed to eat it when you are done with your meal.

  • Doug

    I never had a problem with what to do with the rest of the bunch of parsley, because it keeps so well, if you take care of it & you’ll use it up before it fades. Cut the stems of the bunch to give them a fresh end to draw water & put it in a glass of fresh water. Put the whole thing in the fridge. It really takes very little room since the bunch is standing up. Clip away when needed, refresh the water after a couple of days & it will be as fresh & green after a week as when you bought it. If you begin to feel that it’s time is drawing to a close make a vegetable soup & use up all your leftovers including the parsley

  • Lisa J. Cihlar

    I grow parsley just so that I can make this recipe. Lisa

    Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

    ¼ cup olive oil
    3 to 4 garlic cloves sliced lengthwise into 4 pieces
    2 anchovies
    2 chili peppers, or more to taste
    ¼ cup dry white wine
    salt to taste
    ½ cup minced Italian parsley
    Extra virgin olive oil for flavoring
    1 pound dried or fresh spaghetti

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 3 quarts of water and three tablespoons salt.

    Prepare sauce: In large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic, anchovies, and chili peppers. Use a wooden spoon to stir mixture, pressing occasionally with back of the spoon, until the anchovies are broken up and blended into the olive oil. (The oil must not be too hot, or it will fry the anchovies instead of allowing them to “melt” into the olive oil.)

    Remove the skillet from the heat, and add the wine, a good pinch of salt and half the parsley. Mix well. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain well and add to skillet, tossing until the strands are coated with sauce. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

    Makes 4 servings.

    Oh my gosh that looks good, thanks for sharing! ~Elise

  • Robin

    Wow, one of life’s mysteries solved! Thanks for this great article about parsley, which until now I almost always skipped when it was called for.

    I’ve been coming here for the great recipes; now I’ll come to have my burning questions answered. :)

  • Meike

    Parsley is full of iron. It is very healthy. And I use it a lot in the summer. In salads or in salad dressings or in a sour cream dip with fresh herbs, with mushrooms, in soups or risottos or even over a baked potato. It is very tasty and if you buy it fresh and young it does not taste bitter at all.

  • K.Jeanne

    OK…here goes: I keep a couple of bunches of parsley in fridge most of the time. I make parsley tea to drink. Very healthy and helps digestion.

    Parsley tea? Great idea. I can imagine it would be excellent for digestion. ~Elise

  • Karin

    Grilled swordfish topped up with chopped parsley, olive oil and lemon!! Try it.

  • Mika

    I’m pretty sure that here in Italy every family has parsley in its own fridge. We use it all the time to make “soffritto”, with meat, for sauces, polpette. I lived in Ireland two months and I was very surprised that I couldn’t find parsley anywhere. Here it’s a must to have.

  • David

    I always eat the garnish! Cleanses the palate and makes a perfect ending to the meal.

    Here in Montana I don’t know if the plant would survive the winter outdoors. However it does wonderfully in a pot in the kitchen window. And it makes a good looking houseplant.

    I’ve had plants that survived for years, and there is no down times for change of season.

    I just cut off what I need, when I need it, and rinse it off.

    After a couple years though, the leaves start to yellow or brown on the ends, new growth is slow in coming, and what there is of the plant starts to become bitter tasting and slightly woody. This is when you should dump the plant and start a new one.

    I use it in many dishes, but the one that comes most to mind is Swedish Meatballs. I use parsley both in the meatballs and in the gravy.

    1 each egg, beaten
    1/4 cup milk
    1/3 cup bread crumbs
    1/4 cup onion, minced
    1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lowry’s)
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
    1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground
    1/2 cup chopped parsley, loose
    1 pound ground beef
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons white flour
    2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    2 cups milk

    1. Combine egg and 1/4 cup milk in a large bowl . Stir in bread crumbs, minced onions, season salt, garlic powder, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and allspice. Add ground beef; mix well. With wet hands, shape into 30 meatballs, about 1 inch in size.

    2. Arrange meatballs on a baking pan. Bake in a 350°F oven 20 minutes or until done.

    3. About 5 minutes before meatballs are done, melt butter in a large skillet. Stir in flour, bouillon granules, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Gradually stir in 2 cups milk. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Add 1/4 cup parsley. Add meatballs to skillet; heat through.

    A bit high in cholesterol, with the butter gravy etc. but one of my family’s favorites.

    Thanks David! ~Elise

  • Betsy

    Parsley is an integral part of Persian cuisine. They use huge quantities of it along with other herbs. Check out this yummy meat stew they make using parsley with other ingredients. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/08/26/ghormeh_sabzi_recipe/

    I had lived in Teheran for a while and could never have enough of it!!

  • Maria

    Wow, this came as a surprise to me. I thought the whole world used parsley as much as we in Serbia, and Balkans in general, do. It is true, parsley will improve the taste of almost any cooked dish, I could not imagine any kind of soup without it, for example. Also, the salads, mmmmm, my mouth waters. Feel free to try it (those of you who haven’t), put a small amount, there is no way it could ruin your dish.

  • Lauren

    Secretly, I used to love when it was my job to chop/prep the parsley at work and otherwise I could live on Tabbouleh =)

    What a really helpful blurb on parsley… I have especially wondered for a long time on the difference in use for Italian vs. regular parsley so that was great info. I just happened on this site through igoogle and will definitely be back, thanks =)

  • cciaochowlinda

    Parsley is so underrated and underused here in the states. Your post was really informative. Hopefully more people will start to use it in cooking and just raw in salads.

  • Hannah

    What I love most about parsley is its smell, chopped. One of the best smells in the world, I think!

  • Bree

    I really like to use parsley as a salad green in a salad. It really brightens the flavor and makes a simple salad just a little bit different.

  • nags

    This is a very integral part of Indian cuisine. Although I thought it was called cilantro in the US. The picture looks like cilantro but what we call parsley is different. Anyway, its called coriander leaves in India and you can make tons of stuff with it. My top two are coriander chutney and coriander rice.

    What is pictured is flat-leaf parsley (that I planted a week ago), definitely different than cilantro or coriander. Though they look a lot alike. In fact, we usually have one or the other or both in the fridge, so we often have to taste a leaf just to make sure we are using the herb we want! ~Elise

    • Jesslin

      Yeah, coriander/cilantro is *very* different taste-wise to parsley. As one of the people genetically designed to think cilantro tastes like soap, I can tell in a heartbeat! :D

  • fethiye

    Just plain old parsley salad has been my old time favorite: use only the young stems & leaves, after washing and drying them add the salad dressing made out of lemon juice + olive oil + salt, and here you go: salad full of good stuff!

    Parsley is a must have herb in Middle Eastern dishes. Also, you should always opt for flat leaf, not the curly ones for flavor.

  • C.

    What do you mean no one eats the parsley on their plate? I eat mine and everyone else’s that will allow me to. Nice and clean at the end of the meal, that’s what it’s there for? no?

    Hey, if you like to eat the garnish, great! It’s good for you. I love to eat shiso, a typical garnish for Japanese food. But no, people do not typically eat the garnish parsley. ~Elise

  • Joe

    We like to make tabbouleh when our parsley plants start to produce more than we can handle. It’s really easy and is a delicious and healthy treat!