Today we profile Parsley the partner to Bulgur (the sister to cracked wheat) in the fabulous Middle Eastern salad known as Tabouleh. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food. While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste.
“parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated”
The flavonoids in parsley-especially luteolin-have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood. That means more of a good thing!
In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids,
parsley is an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene). Parsley is also very high in Vitamin K.
The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. Depending on the recipe, one may be preferred but either can be used if it is what is in your fridge. Italian Parsley (flat leaf) looks a lot like Cilantro so if you are not sure, treat off a leaf and taste it, and then you will know. Nothing worse that spending lots of time in the kitchen on a recipe only to get thrown under the bus by a wrong ingredient. Back in my juicing phase, I would juice carrots, beets, spinach and parsley, put it in an old spaghetti sauce jar and sit it throughout the day. It was about 7% parsley and a great way to get your veggies. When caring for your parsley, store it in a plastic bag in the fridge and do not wash it until you are ready to use it. You can dry out and save flat leaf parsley but freeze curly leaf and put it directly in the food from the freezer.
Parsley is the most popular herb in the world
and the best recipe to profile it’s taste is Tabouleh. Tabouleh is a salad like no other. Made with fresh veggies, olive oil and spices, it can be eaten in pita bread, scooped onto pita bread, or traditionally with a fork. In the Middle East, fresh grape leaves are used as a scoop. Tabouleh can be made with a variety of veggies according to taste. You can add carrots, cucumbers, red or green onions. I always suggest tasting as you go along in preparation. You can also add romaine lettuce for a fuller salad.
• 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
• 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
• I medium onion, finely chopped
• 6 medium tomatoes, diced
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 cup bulghur, medium grade
• 6 tablespoons lemon juice
• 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Romaine lettuce or grape leaves to line servicng bowl (optional)
Soak bulghur in water for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in cold water until soft.
Squeeze out excess water from bulghur using hands or paper towel.
Combine all ingredients, except for salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Line serving bowl with grape leaves or romaine lettuce, and add salad.
Sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper on top.
Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.