Italian parsley is a leafy herb that grows small in stature, around one foot tall and about the same around. The multi-branched Italian parsley has bright green stems that are tender when young and grow woody as the plant matures. The leaves are triangular, flat, and deeply toothed, divided into three sections with multiple leaves growing along the tops of the stems. The flat-leafed variety is hardier than the curly variety and it has a stronger aroma and flavor that is slightly less bitter. The flavor is often described as fresh and green, with hints of citrus, clove and nutmeg and an earthy taste. In its 2nd year, Italian parsley will flower, with circular bunches of small white flowers atop thin stems.
Italian parsley is available year-round.
Italian parsley stems are traditionally included in a chef’s ‘bouquet garni,’ a bundle of herbs used to infuse flavor into soups, stocks, brine’s and sauces. The leaves are often reserved for garnish, or added at the end to soups for a fresh green taste. Italian parsley holds up to cooking better than the curly variety, so it is often preferred when using in recipes for hot dishes. Add fresh sprigs to stocks and sauces; use just the stems in a lightly colored sauce to keep the leaves from coloring the dish. Chop the flat-leafed parsley and add to tabbouleh or mix with rice and dill for stuffed grape leaves. Use Italian parsley in marinades and dressings, coleslaw’s and potato dishes. Italian parsley should be rinsed under cool water to remove any dirt before use. Store unwashed Italian parsley in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to a week.