Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a bright green, biennial herb that is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. It is used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although it has a milder flavor.
Two forms of parsley are used as herbs: curly leaf and Italian or flat leaf. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. Many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor, and this opinion is backed by chemical analysis which finds much higher levels of essential oil in the flat-leaved cultivars. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. Another type of parsley is grown as a root vegetable.
Parsley is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Mouse Moth and The Nutmeg.
In parts of Europe, and particularly in West Asia, many foods are served with chopped parsley sprinkled on top. The fresh flavor of parsley goes extremely well with fish. Parsley is essential to several West Asian salads, e.g., tabbouleh which is the national dish of Lebanon. In Southern and Central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used to flavor stocks, soups and sauces. Additionally, parsley is often used as a garnish.
Parsley is valued as a breath-freshener, due to its high concentration of chlorophyll. Adam Blackman, a nutritionist, claims parsley enhances mental alertness, and affects the immune system.
When selecting, choose fresh looking bunches that are bright green in color. To store, rinse under cold water and shake off excess water, wrap in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag and refrigerate up to a week. To chop fresh parsley, hold the stems and gather leaves into a tight, dense bunch. Using a sharp knife, cut across the gathered bunch to chop coarsely. When all the leaves have been chopped, discard the stems. To mince coarsely chopped leaves, use a sharp knife blade and with a rocking motion, cut back and forth across the leaves until they have been cut to the desired fineness.