Parsley – not just a garnish
Parsley should not be like the expandable toothpick umbrellas that sit prettily atop “foo foo” drinks. One tree-like sprig of the fresh herb stuck directly into a mound of mashed potatoes or precariously laid across a fillet of fish frankly upsets me a bit. Who decided that parsley was merely a decorative leaf, and why is it always pulled to the side of the plate with disgust?
I often get strange looks when I come across this sort of case and fearlessly consume the garnish, stalk, leaves and all. I should have known I would be an out of the ordinary parsley enthusiast when, at age 6, I picked up my first puppy and named her Parsley. My mother, needless to say, was fairly reluctant about the decision.
Parsley was an unruly dog, and so it was we often roamed the neighborhood calling out for an herb-identified dog, likely concerning the neighbors of our sanity. My fondness for Parsley, the herb, brings equal concern nowadays, when I serve parsley in salad form to dinner guests. People have a stout understanding of parsley as the tiny flecks of green sometimes dusted atop pastas, but I am determined to change minds on the matter.
Parsley is not only a great herbaceous leaf to enjoy in a salad, pesto, dressing or marinade, it is also a highly medicinal food. The consumption and medicinal use of parsley dates back many centuries to the Mediterranean region, where it was used for disease prevention, digestive stimulation, antibacterial purposes, flavoring and breath freshening.
An unexpected source of potent nourishment, parsley contains more vitamin C than citrus fruits, and has significant amounts of vitamin A, chlorophyll, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and iron. If, and hopefully when, you consume more than a sprig of it as a garnish, parsley also works as an antioxidant, eliminating harmful toxins from the body.
Its stimulating effects help energize and clarify the digestive system, immune system, endocrine glands, adrenal glands, liver and spleen. Your adrenal glands, where stress, lifestyle and diet can be transformed into physical fatigue and weakened immunity, can significantly benefit from the natural support and cleansing that parsley provides.
As we dive headfirst into BBQ’s and picnics, there is something to be said about the versatility and appealing flavor that this herb brings to the table. One of the best marinades and sauces I know is the Argentinean style chimichurri made from diced parsley, fresh garlic and olive oil. As a salad served alone or aside meats or starches parsley will help you digest better, help prevent the spread of food-borne bacteria and refresh and cool your body on a warm summer day.
Parsley definitely deserves more credit than it gets, and now is a great time to take advantage of the early summer crop. Add parsley to your Green Grocery or Farm-to-Table order and come back Thursday for my all-time favorite chimichurri recipe and a salad that will please even the weariest of parsley eaters.