Friday, February 17, 2012

Parsley From My Garden: Uses, Growing, and Health Benefits (Recipe Included)

It's getting close to that time of the year when I start sowing seeds in trays to transplant outside when Spring finally arrives. One of my favorite mainstay herbs is definitely the versatile parsley herb. Parsley (Petroselinum hortense) is a member of the Umbrelliferae plant family along with Queen Anne's Lace, celery, fennel, and carrot. It's no wonder that parsley shares many of the same nutritional and medicinal qualities! This useful herb originated in the Mediterranean region where it quickly spread to the "new world" of America to be used in soups, salads, bread, sauces, dressings, and pasta.

Last year, I started my flat-leaf parsley indoors in a flat seedling tray right under the window to allow some sun exposure. You should began sowing the seeds at least six weeks before the start of Spring or late May where I live in northern Ohio. This gives them time to develop into somewhat of a sturdy sproutlings that can be transplanted to your garden bed, container, or even the garden. I think the bright green leaves of parsley that grow out  in a bunch from a central stem look best in a garden bed or container. By situating them in a bed or container it's easier to keep the soil a nice loam and well-drained consistency, which is important in preventing flooding and root rot. Parsley should get at least six hours of mostly late noon and evening sun a day as it does best in partial shade. It's a biennial herb so you may have to replant it every two years.

The health benefits of consuming and using parsley are below:

  • Flavonoids like luteolin make it a great antioxidant (scavenges for damaging free radicals).
  • It contains many useful volatile oils such as myristicin, apiol, and pinene.
Now for the recipe that uses parsley as one of it's main ingredients and is a long-time favorite snack or lunch of mine. It's very similar to your classic pizza, but is made on slices of bread instead of crust.
  • One slice of spelt bread for each person (or however many you want)
  • Organic tomato sauce spread on each slice
  • Sliced raw, pasture-based cheese, either cheddar or colby
  • 1 tablespoon of each herb to a slice: parsley, garlic, oregano, basil
Now place all the ingredients on a slice of bread and stick in the over at least 350 degrees. It can take as little as five minutes so keep checking. Serve when ready.

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