If you’ve recently planted a parsley patch, or come home with some extra fresh parsley from the market, you might be wondering how to use parsley in cooking. Parsley is a widely-used, extremely versatile culinary herb that can be used in countless recipes to brighten almost any dish. Once you’ve become familiar with the many uses of this kitchen staple, you’ll never ask what to do with parsley again!
There are two types of parsley used for cooking – curly leaf parsley, and flat leafed parsley. Flat leafed parsley is by far the better for cooking. The Italians are particularly well-versed on how to use parsley in cooking. Flat leafed parsley, also known as Italian parsley, is in fact so omnipresent in Italian cooking that the Italians have a phrase about it. You’re likely to hear an Italian use the phrase ‘you’re like parsley!’ (tu sei come prezzemolo) to refer to someone whom they keep running into. This is because, just like that person you keep running into everywhere, when it comes to cooking in Italy, parsley is almost all around!
Parsley is part of the carrot family, a relative to celery, parsnips, celery and even its doppleganger – cilantro, which, while both similar looking, taste nothing alike.
How to Use Parsley in Cooking
Parsley Flavour Profile: Flat leafed parsley has a savory, earthy taste reminiscent of celery that can rescue many a bland dish.
How to Cook Parsley: When determining how to use parsley in cooking a meal it’s useful to note that the three most prevalent uses are: sautéing, garnishing or as part of a bouquet garni. Particularly good for sautéing to build a flavor base for soups, stews or broths, sprigs of parsley are best finely chopped with a sharp knife. Add them at the start of the cooking process along with other suitable aromatics such as onions and garlic. It also advisable to reserve a table spoon or two to sprinkled as fresh garnish upon serving in order to give the meal an additional lift.
When cooking with parsley as a bouquet garni, simply tie several sprigs together with complimentary herbs of your choice, add to your stock pot or saucepan at the start of the cooking process and remove before serving. The most popular bouquet garni combination is parsley with thyme and bay. Alternative savory combinations include sage, rosemary and oregano – but feel free to experiment with what to do with parsley in your garni!
When cooking with parsley as a garnish, keep in mind that fresh Italian parsley is pungent, so use with a moderate hand when garnishing!
What to do with Parsley
Parsley is Best for: Wondering what to do with parsley? Parsley can be used to cook pasta sauce, soups, stocks, to roast or braise vegetables, and to create bouquet garnis.
How to Prepare Parsley: Before preparing parsley, its important to decide what to do with parsley. This will determine how best to prepare the parsley for your meal. Roughly or finely chop the leaves for sautéing or garnishing. Finely chop the stems for sauteeing, or use stems whole in a bouquet garni.
How to Use Parsley as a Substitute: It can be used in place of celery in a pinch – being part of the same family it has a remarkably similar, earthy flavor.
Cuisine Type: Italian, French, North African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean
Cooking with Parsley
How to Use Parsley in Recipes:
- Italian-style Mushroom Vegan ‘Meatballs’
- Chimichurri – an Argentinian style pesto!
- Aglio Olio e Peperoncino Pasta: Garlic, Olive oil, chilli + Parsley
- Tabbouleh (Middle Eastern)
- Smothered onion, potato and parsley soup
- Grilled mushrooms with garlic, olive oil + parsley
- White bean, pea + onion stew with parsley
- Braised Garlic Artichokes with parsley and capers
- Parsley Pesto
- Parsley Hummus
Parsley Vitamin Profile: High in vitamin C, iron and beta carotene
Fresh, Frozen or Dried Parsley? When deciding to to use parsely for cooking, always keep in mind that Fresh parsley is best, be it home grown, or from the store. Fresh parsley will keep for 3 days to one week if stored correctly by keeping them stems submerged in a jar of water, like you would flowers, or by the stems in wet paper towel, then storing in the vegetable drawer wrapped in plastic. If fresh parsley is not available, frozen parsley can be used. (Frozen cubes of parsley pesto are amazing useful and easy to make when deciding what to do with parsley at the end of the growing season!)
Dried parsley has virtually no flavor to impart at all and it is better to substitute herb another herb in its place than to attempt cooking with parsley that has been dried.
What to do with parsley you don’t need: Preserve or freeze it! Make a parsley pesto by adding olive oil, freshly minced garlic, pine nuts, salt and nutritional yeast in place of cheese. If you have excess parsley, consider freezing it before it goes bad. To freeze excess parsley either finely chop it and save it with a touch of water in ice cube trays, or roll sprigs of parsley together and wrap in plastic to create a frozen parsley ‘cigar’. This way you’ll be cooking with parsley year round!
Parsley Season: This year round biennial will grow over winter in a suitably warm climate, living for two years giving the culinary herb gardener myriad to enjoy cooking with parsley.
How to Grow + Harvest Parsley: Parsley is an easy to grow herb perfect for culinary container gardening. Clumps of sprigs grow together from a single plant. To use, cut a stem or ‘sprig’ of parsley from the bottom of its base. The entire stem should be cut, as new leaves will not regrow to replace cut leaves on an individual stem. Instead, an entirely new fresh sprig will grow up from the same plant. The more the herb is used, the more new growth is stimulated, making for an abundant supply of fresh Italian parsley. Click here for the beginners guide to growing parsley.
Recipes Cooking with Parsley: