Thursday, 23 June 2016


“Ah me! Love cannot be cured by herbs.” - Ovid

Parsley or garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) in the family Apiaceae, is native to the central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Greece, Algeria, and Tunisia), naturalised elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as a herb, a spice, and a vegetable. Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter.

Parsley is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, and American cooking. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central Europe, eastern Europe and southern Europe, as well as and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Root parsley is very common in central, eastern and southern European cuisines, where it is used as a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles.

Parsley is a merger of the Old English petersilie (which is identical to the contemporary German word for parsley, Petersilie) and the Old French peresil, both derived from Medieval Latin petrosilium, from Latin petroselinum, which is the latinisation of the Greek πετροσέλινον (petroselinon), “rock-parsley”, from πέτρα (petra), “rock, stone”, + σέλινον (selinon), “parsley”. Mycenaean Greek se-ri-no, in Linear B, is the earliest attested form of the word selinon. Interestingly, in Modern Greek, the word selino means “celery”.

Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil, with full sun. It grows best between 22–30 °C, and usually is grown from seed. Germination is slow, taking four to six weeks, and it often is difficult because of furanocoumarins in its seed coat. Typically, plants grown for the leaf crop are spaced 10 cm apart, while those grown as a root crop are spaced 20 cm apart to allow for the root development. Parsley attracts several species of wildlife. Some swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae; their caterpillars are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Bees and other nectar-feeding insects also visit the flowers. Birds such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds.

Parsley is a source of flavonoid, and antioxidants (especially luteolin), apigenin, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Half a of tablespoon (a gram) of dried parsley contains about 6.0 µg of lycopene and 10.7 µg of alpha carotene as well as 82.9 µg of lutein+zeaxanthin and 80.7 µg of beta carotene. Excessive consumption of parsley should be avoided by pregnant women. It is safe in normal food quantities, but large amounts may have uterotonic effects.

Green parsley is used frequently as a garnish on potato dishes (boiled or mashed potatoes), on rice dishes (risotto or pilaf), on fish, fried chicken, lamb, goose, and steaks, as well in meat or vegetable stews (including shrimp creole, beef bourguignon, goulash, or chicken paprikash). In central Europe, eastern Europe and southern Europe, as well as in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green, chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

In southern and central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used as an ingredient in stocks, soups, and sauces. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups such as chicken soup, green salads, or salads such as salade Olivier, and on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés. Persillade is a mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley in French cuisine.

Parsley is the main ingredient in Italian salsa verde, which is a mixed condiment of parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, and bread soaked in vinegar. It is an Italian custom to serve it with bollito misto or fish. Gremolata, a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, is a traditional accompaniment to the Italian veal stew, ossobuco alla milanese. In England, parsley sauce is a roux-based sauce, commonly served over fish or gammon.

Root parsley is very common in Central, Eastern and Southern European cuisines, where it is used as a snack or a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles, and as ingredient for broth. In Brazil, freshly chopped parsley (salsa) and freshly chopped scallion (cebolinha) are the main ingredients in the herb seasoning called cheiro-verde (literally “green aroma"), which is used as key seasoning for major Brazilian dishes, including meat, chicken, fish, rice, beans, stews, soups, vegetables, salads, condiments, sauces and stocks. Cheiro-verde is sold in food markets as a bundle of both types of fresh herbs. In some Brazilian regions, chopped parsley may be replaced by chopped coriander (coentro) in the mixture. Parsley is a key ingredient in several Middle Eastern salads such as Lebanese tabbouleh.

Garden parsley is a bright green, biennial, plant in temperate climates, or an annual herb in subtropical and tropical areas. Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter. In the second year, it grows a flowering stem to 75 cm tall with sparser leaves and flat-topped 3–10 cm diameter umbels with numerous 2 mm diameter yellow to yellowish-green flowers. The seeds are ovoid, 2–3 mm long, with prominent style remnants at the apex. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The plant normally dies after seed maturation

In the language of flowers, a sprig of leafy parsley stands for “Entertainment; Festivity; Banquet; Lasting Pleasures”. A sprig of flowering parsley means “Useful Knowledge”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,

and also part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.


  1. What wonderful information you include in your posts! I grow parsley as well as other herbs in the summer, and, although I am not a gardener to my dismay, I am a very successful container gardener with herbs especially. Cannot imagine cooking without them.

  2. I use bunches of continental parsley along with garlic and olive oil in almos all of my cooking.

    There is an old French custom that if a woman wants to dry up her breast milk she should put a bunch of parsley under each arm before sleeping and when she wakes the next morning it will be gone.
    ... too much information ?:)