Packaged Organic Fresh Herbs
Italian parsley is a leafy herb that grows small in stature, around one foot tall and about the same around. The multi-branched Italian parsley has bright green stems that are tender when young and grow woody as the plant matures. The leaves are triangular, flat, and deeply toothed, divided into three sections with multiple leaves growing along the tops of the stems. The flat-leafed variety is hardier than the curly variety and it has a stronger aroma and flavor that is slightly less bitter. The flavor is often described as fresh and green, with hints of citrus, clove and nutmeg and an earthy taste. In its 2nd year, Italian parsley will flower, with circular bunches of small white flowers atop thin stems.
Italian parsley is available year-round.
Italian parsley is a cousin of the curly variety often spotted on a dish as a garnish. The botanical name for Italian parsley is Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum, though it is often referred to as “flat-leafed parsley.” The aromatic herb is in the carrot family and gets its name from its likely place of origin. Italian parsley is grown not only for its aromatic leaves but also its stems, which are featured in the classic French seasoning ‘bouquet garni,’ that also includes fresh sprigs of thyme and dry bay leaves. In addition to the Italian and curly varieties, there is a third parsley variety called Hamburg, which is grown for its long, salsify-like root and used mainly for medicinal purposes.
Italian parsley has the same health benefits as the curly variety. The leafy herb is a good source of vitamins A, B, C and K, and the minerals iron, potassium, and copper. Italian parsley also contains folate. Compounds in Italian parsley’s essential oils like limonene, eugenol and myristicin give the herb its aroma as well as antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids in Italian parsley, such as luteolin and apigenin give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Italian parsley is used as a pallet cleanser and digestive aid.
Italian parsley stems are traditionally included in a chef’s ‘bouquet garni,’ a bundle of herbs used to infuse flavor into soups, stocks, brines and sauces. The leaves are often reserved for garnish, or added at the end to soups for a fresh green taste. Italian parsley holds up to cooking better than the curly variety, so it is often preferred when using in recipes for hot dishes. Add fresh sprigs to stocks and sauces; use just the stems in a lightly colored sauce to keep the leaves from coloring the dish. Chop the flat-leafed parsley and add to tabbouleh or mix with rice and dill for stuffed grape leaves. Use Italian parsley in marinades and dressings, coleslaws and potato dishes. Italian parsley should be rinsed under cool water to remove any dirt before use. Store unwashed Italian parsley in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to a week.
In some countries, the curly variety is preferred over the flat-leaf Italian parsley. This could be related to an ancient practice of avoiding the flat-leafed variety due to its resemblance to the poisonous weed, “fool’s parsley.” The ancient Greeks used parsley for both medicinal purposes, as well as for the adornment of athletes and the tombs of the dead. The Grecian use of parsley as a medicinal herb may have influenced its use in Ayurvedic practices in India. The dried stems and leaves can be powdered and used as a green dye or food coloring.