Other Names: Baqdounis (Arabic); curly parsley; jaafari (Farsi); flat-leaf parsley; Hamburg parsley; Italian parsley; jouver or peiresilh (Provençal French); julivert (Catalan); makedonisi or persemolo (Greek); maqdounis (North African Arabic); maydanoz (Turkish); okhrakhushi (Georgian); paseri (Japanese); perejil (Spanish); perrexil (Basque); persil (French); persilja (Swedish); peterselie (Dutch); petersilie or peterwurz (German); peterzili (Amharic); petrishke (Yiddish); petrosilia (Hebrew); petrushka (Russian); prezzemolo (Italian); root parsley; salsa (Portuguese); turnip-rooted parsley.

General Description: Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a plant with either flat or curly deep-green leaves that have a cleansing, mildly bitter flavor. This refreshing, highly adaptable herb is used to enhance practically all European and Middle Eastern foods. Native to the eastern Mediterranean and related to celery, parsley leaves are the basis of green sauces from Italy and France to Germany and Argentina. The two main categories of parsley, flat-leaf and curly, were well-known even to the ancient Greeks. Curly parsley has attractive small, ruffled leaves and is common in English-speaking countries, where it is used as a garnish. Flat-leaf parsley has larger, sturdier, serrated leaves with a more pronounced flavor. Often called Italian parsley, it is a ubiquitous herb in European and Middle Eastern cookery, used in abundance in Middle Eastern dishes like tabbouleh. Neapolitan parsley is larger, with bigger leaves and thicker stems, and can be grown and eaten like celery.

In eastern Europe, Hamburg parsley (P. crispum var. tuberosum), which has a tender, edible root similar to parsnip, is preferred. The thick, fleshy, creamy-white roots taste like a combination of celery and parsley with a nutty flavor. It is considered essential for soups and stews in that region. It may also be thinly sliced or grated to eat raw in salads, and roasted, mashed, fried, or made into chips. The young leaves are used as soup greens and can also be chopped and added to salads or used as a garnish.

Season: Curly parsley and Italian parsley are available year-round but are youngest and most tender in spring. In late summer, the leaves may be overly large and tough or spotted. Hamburg parsley is available in fall and winter.

Purchase and Avoid: In hot weather, parsley tends to spoil quickly, so look for deep green, whole leaves with a pleasant, faintly bitter aroma without any slime or yellowing. Hamburg parsley, sometimes available in supermarkets, is more common in areas with a significant Jewish, Polish, or Russian population.

Serving Suggestions: Briefly deep-fry curly or Italian parsley leaves to use as an edible garnish. Add one or two Hamburg parsley roots when boiling potatoes to make intriguing mashed potatoes. Briefly boil Italian parsley leaves, drain, and sauté in olive oil and serve as a side dish.

Food Affinities: Beef, bulgur, capers, carrot, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chicken, clams, eggplant, garlic, olive oil, onion, pasta, potato, shallot, tomato, vermouth, zucchini.

from Quirk Books: