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I grow parsley in my garden year after year. There are so many uses for this herb that I can't imagine having to constantly buy it at the store. To me, parsley is so much more than just a garnish!

The most common type of parsley is curly parsley. It has tightly curled or ruffled leaves and is a bit tougher than the second most common type of parsley, Italian flat-leaf. Italian flat-leaf parsley looks more like cilantro, another green flat-leaf herb, but don't confuse the two, as their tastes are widely different! While curly leaf is the most common parsley found in home kitchens, it's the Italian flat-leaf parsley that rules the restaurant industry. Many chefs will tell you that Italian flat-leaf parsley is more robust in flavor. Either type, however, may be used in cooking. When substituting one for another, take texture and flavor adjustments into account.

It's best to use fresh parsley immediately after harvesting from the garden, but when that is not an option, trim the ends and place in a glass containing about an inch of fresh water. Cover with a loose plastic bag, and change the water when it becomes cloudy. This will extend the life of parsley for about 10 days. Wash before use under cool running water. Shake to remove excess water and dry on paper towels. Parsley is a popular herb in many Mediterranean dishes. It pairs well with many grains, beans, tomatoes, lemon, fish and seafood. Parsley is a source of iron, potassium, vitamin A, K and C. It deserves to be the food, not as a decoration near the food!

Bean Salad with Parsley (Printable PDF)

1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) no added salt black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup chopped red onion

1 ½ cups chopped tomato

1 cup chopped parsley

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

Fresh black pepper, to taste

¼ cup olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine garbanzo beans, black beans, red onion, tomato and parsley; stir. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over vegetable bean mixture, and stir to coat all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 220 calories, 11 grams fat, 210 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 8 grams protein