Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mini Herb of the Week - Parsley

I did a full post on Parsley as Herb of the Week back in 2015, so this will just be a mini parsley conversation.

Parsley among the herbs in a bouquet garni
This biennial herb that flowers only in the second year is brightly green leafed.  The leaves are divided pinnately into feather-like sections that lay flat like celery leaves or curl into small frilly leaflets depending on the variety.  Parsley has been naturalized throughout the temperate region needing full sun to part shade. Curly parsley grows 12 to 16 inches tall and can be grown easily as far north as zone 5.  The flat leaf parsley is taller growing 18 to 24 inches and is best for cooking.

So many think is it only a decorative green, but it is actually Parsley has more vitamin C per volume than oranges.  It also contains Vitamin A, several B vitamins, calcium, and iron.  Beyond this contribution of vitamins and minerals, however, it is not considered significantly medicinally. Some have made tea with it to use as a diuretic, but those with kidney issues and those who are pregnant should avoid this treatment.

flat-leaf Parsley
The best use of parsley is in cooking and seasoning.  Parsley has the ability to enhance the flavor of other herbs when it is not that flavor filled itself.  As a result, it is often used in seasoning blends.  I must source out parsley because I cannot produce enough for all the uses I have for it.  Be wary of store-bought parsley, however, if it seems just “too green.”  Parsley has a tendency to brown as it dries, in fact if you do not bag it after it is crisp-dry it can turn brown over time.  To avoid jars of brown herbs, many retailers dye parsley green.  You can usually tell if the color seems way too vibrant for a dried herb.  They should be a green on the dusty side of color.  When cooking with parsley add near the end of cooking to keep it from losing all its taste.

Parsley does not grow well from seed, so overplant seeds in a hill if you want to try to grow your own.  I generally buy nursery plants for my parsley and although it is a biennial, I treat it as an annual for I find the tasty leaves are short-lived in the second year as the plant strives to flower.  At the end of each season I just remove the plant with the other annuals before or after the first frost.  There are some who say that they have a parsley for years and harvest from it all season, but what I think they have is some sort of self-seeding going on because parsley is not attractive to flavorful in the second year and as with all true biennials it will die after producing seed.

This month we have focused on Chicken Soup as our recipe theme and I found a great recipe using parsley to keep up with that theme.

Chicken Vegetable Ramen Soup
1 (6-pound) roasting chicken
8 cups water
2 ½ cups chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
1 ½ cup ½ inch cubed parsnip (about 8 ounces)
1 ½ cups ½ inch cubed carrots (about 8 ounces)
1 ½ cups ½ inch cubed turnip (about 8 ounces)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbls chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 to 4 packages of Ramen Noodles

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken.  Remove and discard skin from chicken.  Trim excess fat.  Split chicken in half lengthwise.  Place in Dutch oven.  Cover with 8 cups water and bring to a boil.  Cook 10 minutes.  Skim fat from surface of broth, discard fat. Add celery, leeks, parsnip, carrot and turnip, stirring well. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove chicken.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from the bones, shred with 2 forks to yield 6 cups meat.  Discard bones.  Simmer vegetable mixture for 10 minutes or until tender.  Return shredded chicken to pan add salt, pepper, parsley and dill.  Cook ramen noodles according to package directions, omitting the seasoning packet.  Place ½ cup noodles in each of 8 bowls, top each with 1 ½ cups chicken mixture.

Parsley Chicken Seasoning
Great in soups, but also wonderful in chicken salad, egg salad and Chicken casseroles.

2 Tbls Parsley
2 tsp basil
2 tsp red pepper
2 tsp minced garlic

Mix together and store in a tightly lidded jar.  Use about 1 tsp per ½ pound of chicken in recipe.

To find any Chicken Soup recipe featured this month - use the search box and type: ChickJan
To find any theme recipe from this year type: recipe2018

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