Today we’ll be talking about herbs, and making a few delicious dishes with one of the most nutritious, affordable, and versatile herbs that is always available – parsley!
Herbs are an important part of any healthy kitchen. In addition to adding bright bursts of taste and color, they are also some of the most nutritious items you can grow in the garden or buy at the market.
Herbs are packed with important nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, B-vitamins and even iron. They also provide abundant phytonutrients – chemicals found in plant foods that protect us from disease. You may have heard of some phytonutrients, like lycopene, found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, or beta-carotene, found in orange, red and green fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Herbs just happen to be some of the best sources of phytonutrients available and are a great way to nutritionally power up your plate!
Parsley is one of the most nutritious, inexpensive, and overlooked herbs in the market. Many of us are used to seeing parsley perched on the side of a plate, as a garnish, and, we may or may not actually eat it. But parsley can be a wonderful addition to soups, salads, vegetables and sauces, adding a burst of flavor and color and really notching up the nutrients in a meal.
Markets usually sell two types of parsley – curly and flat, or Italian. There is a slight difference in taste between the two, and also a difference in texture. However, they really can be used interchangeably in any recipe.
When you get your parsley home, give it a bath. Parsley can hold onto a lot of dirt, so I like to wash it in a big bowl with lots of cold water. After removing the dirt from the parsley, give it a rinse and then gently pat it dry or spin it in a salad spinner. You don’t want to store wet and soggy parsley in the refrigerator, because it will rot very quickly that way.
If you do store parsley in the refrigerator, put it in a plastic bag with a paper towel, to absorb extra moisture. You can also store parsley on the kitchen counter in a container of water, just like a bunch of flowers, where it will stay fresh for a few weeks. I like to store parsley on the counter, because then I see and use it more often when I am cooking. Just remember to remove leaves from the stems that will be submerged in water and change the water every few days.
So let’s make a few dishes together with this tasty herb.
A great way to use parsley every day is to simply toss whole leaves into a salad. If you have them, add other herbs to your salad as well for wonderful, tasty variety. Any of the delicate herbs can be added to a salad, including dill, mint, basil, tarragon and cilantro, depending on what types of flavors you want.
For this simple and delicious salad, I tossed parsley leaves with romaine lettuce, sliced mushrooms, sliced red onion, and an easy dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. If you have them in your kitchen, add some chopped walnuts to your salad for some extra crunch, super-nutrients, and flavor. Fresh mint leaves go really well in this salad too.
Tip: Tossing the mushrooms with a little lemon juice in this recipe will keep them bright and prevent them from turning brown.
You can also boost the nutrition and appeal of basic steamed, baked or boiled potatoes just by tossing them with some chopped parsley. Or, for even more flavor, turn your parsley into a simple sauce to use in place of butter. This adds a bunch more flavor and nutrients to potatoes with fewer calories and less fat.
All we need to do to turn this parsley into a flavorful sauce is some garlic, lemon, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.
Use this sauce on any type of potato, roasted or sautéed vegetables (especially winter squash and carrots). A little lemon juice and crushed red pepper spices things up a bit and makes a great sauce to toss with a bunch of steamed cauliflower or broccoli.
For the complete recipes just click on the links below.
Tune into our next video and blog, where we will use a few more common herbs, mint and cilantro, to add bursts of flavor and nutritional power to your meals. In the meantime, remember to eat that parsley, and we’ll see you back here soon in Your Healthy Kitchen!
Download the Romaine Lettuce Salad with Mushrooms and Parsley Recipe: romaine_lettuce_salad_with_mushrooms_and_parsley.pdf
Download the Potatoes Tossed with Lemon, Garlic and Parsley Recipe: potatoes_tossed_with_lemon-_garlic-_and_parsley.pdf
Download the Cauliflower with Spicy Parsley Sauce Recipe: cauliflower_with_spicy_parsley_sauce.pdf