Parsley

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Parsley. Who hasn’t added this beautiful, dark green herb to dishes needing that little added something? Who hasn’t thrown a sprig or two on the platter to pretty up a special dinner presentation? And who hasn’t chopped up a handful to sprinkle along the rim of a plate — possibly just because we sometimes need to feel a tiny bit more skilled at cooking than we really are? This common herb is easy to grow, inexpensive to buy fresh or dried, and uber-beneficial to gardens and human bodies.  In fact, although we often say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, in Scandinavia the saying, roughly translated, is, “A bit of parsley a day keeps the doctor away” — and rightly so.  Parsley provides added Vitamin A and folic acid, helps keeps immune systems healthy, and gives us extra iron.

Here is a universal piece of goodness about the common, simple, yet elegant, parsley – if you don’t have a garden or a window sill or even a sunny window, you can buy a bunch of parsley for less than a dollar. Wrap it in a wet paper towel and keep it in the produce drawer of the fridge. Or, chop it fine with a knife or a processor and place it in an uncovered, shallow bowl in the fridge. Give it a stir every so often, and it will soon dry. This lasts longer than fresh but not as long as the dried parsley you buy in the supermarket spice aisle. That’s a good bargain, too. However you choose to use it, keep it nearby, and sprinkle it on just about anything for added flavor and nutrition.

We grow both curly- and flat-leaf varieties alongside chives, rosemary, and basil in a big clay pot that sits near the grill on our patio in summer.  Picking a few sprigs to toss on the ribeye couldn’t be easier.  To top it off, parsley adds depth to almost any recipe, sweetens one’s breath – and, by the way, inspires some lip-smacking ooh’s and ahh’s from my dinner guests and me.

Adding it to my favorite summer potato recipe is quick and easy.  Slice your favorite peeled or unpeeled potatoes and arrange in a greased pan. I use olive oil and layer the potatoes in a pattern I like in an old, round, metal cake pan suitable for the grill. Add a layer of cut-up onion, sprinkle generously with chopped parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Repeat until you have as much as you like, ending with a top layer of potatoes. Drizzle olive oil sparingly over all, add a sprig of rosemary if you like, cover with foil (make a slit for venting), and cook at medium high heat for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are done.  Serve directly from the pan if you wish, but if you invert it onto a plate – sprinkled with chopped parsley along the edges, of course – you will enjoy seeing and serving the golden crispiness of the bottom layer. The contrast with the soft combination of potatoes and parsley/onion layers is delightful. Serve it with the ribeye for dinner or with an herb omelet for a delicious breakfast.  Feel good about helping yourself to feel good, and, best of all, enjoy!

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