Up with Parsley!

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Italian ParsleyParsley (Petroselinum crispum) needs a good PR agency. For years parsley sadly clung to the edge of entree platters and was stuffed into deli display cases to make the other food look "fresh."   Yet parsley not only tastes good, but is loaded with vitamins as well.

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean.   It has been cultivated since the time of the ancient Greeks, who used it both to adorn victors of athletic contests and to decorate tombs of the deceased.   The Romans mixed it with cream cheese and served it on bread. Charlemagne allegedly grew it on his estates.

The Italian Parsley in your TakeHome box is from Alba Organics in Watsonville (Santa Cruz County). Just two tablespoons provide 153% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. Like most green vegetables, parsley is also a good source of Vitamin A, folic acid, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It contains flavonoids, which have been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. It even contains some iron.

The two main varieties of parsley are curly and Italian (or flat-leaf).   Less common in the U.S. is Hamburg Parsley, which has large, white, turnip-like roots, and tall fern-like leaves with a celery-like flavor. Parsley's refreshing taste pairs well with many foods, including sautéed mushrooms. It is a delightful contrast in foods such as potatoes or dumplings, and stands out in the well-known Middle Eastern dish tabouleh.   Fresh parsley even freshens your breath, especially after eating garlic!

Parsley keeps well. Store it as you would cut flowers. Snip off the ends to freshen, then place the bunch in a partially-filled glass of water. Place a plastic bag over the bouquet and store in the fridge. This way you can simply pinch off leaves as needed to add fresh taste to soup, salads, roasted vegetables”¦ or if you must, a garnish.

- Heidi Lewis


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