We made it through the first one of 2021 and it was very interesting to say the least. As I promised this is the recap of all the info, recipes and tips that I shared on Parsley, the herb of the year 2021 and the herb of the month for me. I hope you enjoy and learn a bit. At the end of Feb, I'll be emailing the info on Damiana, our second herb. Wishing you all the best.
Every year since 1995, the International Herb Association has selected a herb to spotlight and draw attention to so I thought it was fitting to dedicate our first Herb of the Month in it’s honor, drumroll please….. Parsley.
There are three species of the biennials that belong to the genus, petrosilinum Crispum, flat and curly parsleys are used for their leaves and crispum var. tuberosum or parsley root that is still quite popular in Germany but not much elsewhere. I myself are partial to the Flat variety as it has a higher essential oil concentrate and thus more flavor and more healing mojo.
The use of parsley as a food and medicinal herb go back at least 2000 years and it is only behind salt and pepper as the third most used spice the world over. It’s a staple ingredient in both Mediterranean and Middle East cuisine and it’s making a comeback from days as a plate garnish in our country. I think that parsley leaf is best used fresh in cooking and should be added at the very end of cooking or once the dish is on the plate. I ADORE fresh parsley atop soups, sauces and especially in salads. Be sure to used the parsley within an hour or so of shopping as it looses it’s intense fresh flavor. In medicine making I use both the dried and the fresh but the flavor is NOT the same or as intense once it’s dried.
Parsley is uniquely rich in the antioxidant APIGENIN, which has the ability to not only act as a powerful antioxidant itself but it ramps up the antioxidant attributes of other antioxidants as well. This plus it’s high vitamin A, B and C content, it’s excellent source of calcium and iron and the amount of lutein, another AO which consisting is being studied and used in relation to preventing macular degeneration makes Parsley a must add for many people!
Traditionally known as a powerful diuretic and laxative , Parsley has been showing off some other remarkable benefits such as an additional warrior against cancer and in particular Ovarian Cancer. One study at Harvard Medical showed that Apigenin played an exclusive role as an AO against it, lowering the cancer rates itself by 21% and scientists in Cleveland are using it to develop a chemopreventive agent.
For the heart, Parsley reduced platelet aggregation, the thickening of the blood that triggers artery blocking blood clots by 65%.
In diabetics, it’s been shown not only to protect the liver from damage done by the disease but to lower A1C and daily blood sugar levels as well.
As I mentioned earlier, Parsley is a biennial meaning that you get two years of growth from it. It likes to live in moderately moist, but not wet, well drained, good garden loam with a slightly acidic pH. It is a perfect plant for container cultivation and can be sown directly into the pot or container where you wish it to grow. Full sun of course...water well. It’s a wonderful plant fo young caterpillars to eat, so I grow many plants to share with my young butterflies.
Caution in eating the herb or using it medicinally in pregnant women as it may cause uterine contractions and it has a LONG history of being an anti-galactologue meaning it dries up milk supplies.
It’s so hard to pick some favorite recipes for parsley, it’s such a versatile herb. We use it all the time even if it’s just tossing a handful in the soup, on the rice or to “feel fancy” and garnish the plate. It’s a go to herb.
Parsley can be a salad’s best friend. It adds a little “je ne Sais quoi” a little pop of freshness that really blends with all the veggies and any salad dressing but we absolutely LOVE it with beets. This salad can be adapted with what ever you have on hand and mine is rarely the same twice. It’s fast and filling and looks so gourmet that as my kids say “you wouldn’t be Chopped for this” in reference to their favorite reality cooking show. Sometimes, we add feta or parmesan cheese. A little chicken sliced would be fabulous - anyway, play and enjoy!
3- 5 beets washed and rubbed with olive or avocado oil. I wrap in foil and roast at 425 until soft like a baked potato let them cool to the touch and then slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
1 small head of radicchio, chopped
1/2 head of Napa cabbage chopped
2 large pears sliced
1 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
honey mustard vinaigrette dressing
walnuts or pecans
I use a platter or a ceramic baking dish to layer the radicchio, then Napa cabbage, then the beet slices, the celery, the pears and top with a sprinkling of the nuts and I dress the platter generously but have more dressing if anyone wants it.
Honey Mustard Dressing
3 tablespoons of mustard - Dijon or something grainy. We used a brown ginger for this one.
3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar or any mild vinegar you have on hand. You can always add more honey if it’s too tart.
1/2 cup of olive or avocado oil
1- 3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup - play for your tastebuds. I like a sweet dressing to compliment the earthiness of the beets
Mix really well.
You can add parsley to this as well or some dried thyme or dill.
Chimichurri is very popular in Argentinian and Uruguayan cooking and it has to be one of the healthiest and versatile sauces ever. It’s raw so no anti oxidants or vitamins are lost to cooking. It’s Paleo, AIP, whole 30 and vegan. There aren’t many foods you can say that about. Oh and it’s super easy to make, inexpensive and tastes great and once you start you just might not stop but who’d want to…
It’s most used as a sauce for grilled meats, pretty much any grilled meat but it can be a dip for veggies, bread or crackers, a dressing for salads, poured over rice like a gravy, mixed into pasta, really it’s up to your imagination. Last night we used this as a dip for roasted delicatta squash, this morning I put some on a couple of boiled eggs and tonight, it’ll go on grilled chicken and grilled portobellos and I’ll probably smear it on a sandwich of left overs for lunch tomorrow.
Like all good recipes there are no hard and true MUSTS for Chimichurri except it has parsley. Some people switch the vinegars, some the oils, some add avocado and some water. PLAY and make it your own!
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper or 1 jalapeño - I use chipotle powder because I like the smokey flavor of it
1/2 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper.
Puree it all in a food processor or blender and let it rest for at least 20 minutes so the flavors will blend well. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.
Bitters- January’s Herbal product
I love to repeat the cliche “everything old is new again” when it comes to herbs. For the last 20 years years that I’ve been studying herbs, I’ve seen so many ‘re-discoveries’ of old school recommendations, regiments and remedies resurface ( try saying that fast 3 times) that it doesn’t phase me anymore and sometimes we can beat the trends by just going back and looking through our histories.
Digestive bitters and aperitifs have been used throughout history as a medicine all the way from Ayurvedic medicine in India, TCM in China and through out the Mediterranean and across Europe. They would come in and out of fashion in America throughout our history but most recently have started their comeback due to the artisanal cocktail popularity. In my own home, I’ve been taking them to improve digestion for a few months. The quarantine/holiday/bday diet of decadent and soothing definitely needed me to bring out the big guns to repair what celebrations and isolation did to my gut health.
Bitters or Digestive Bitters are named after their flavor. There are 5 flavors in the world of foods and herbs- Salty, Sweet, Sour, Spicy and Bitter. We in this country get A LOT of the first two and not so much of the others but I’d stake my wager that we get bitter in the smallest amounts and that is definitely to our detriment. Bitter foods and herbs actually do quite a bit for the body- they help with digestion, increase saliva, help support and control the optimal amounts of stomach acid, relieve heartburn and nausea, support our livers which help with blood sugar regulation and our skin health. Seriously it’s bitters for the win. They can be taken before or after a meal. I like to take my tincture before but no worries because I can take them later if I forget. I mix my 20-30 drops in about 6-8 oz of water or a mild herbal tea. Beware they are BITTER but remember that’s the reason they work their magic.
Herb Tip Thursdays- Little blurbs of knowledge about the herb of the month or other things that pop up -
1. Grow extra parsley for the butterflies. It feeds and attracts swallowtails.
2. Dried Parsley is NOT your friend in the kitchen, chop it finely when fresh and freeze.
3. A tea or syrup made of nettle, parsley, horsetail and yellow dock root improves anemia
4. Lost that loving feeling? Folk medicine uses parley root to improve libido
5. Studies show that parsley helps prevent osteoporosis, thanks to it’s high boron and fluorine levels.
6. 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley contain 153% of your RDA of Vitamin K
7. Parsley was once a common garnish because it freshens breath and cleanses your palate between courses.
8. I'm currently taking a course on homeopathic cell salts with Matthew Wood, one of the best herbalists in the country. It's wonderful and A LOT of information. Yesterday, I learned that one of the reasons that dill, chervil, coriander/cilantro, parsley are so great at helping tummy troubles is that they are acidic and the body "reads or acknowledges" this acidity and slows it's own production of acid. Always learning new things makes me happy.
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.