Parsley is a biennial herb, probably native to Southern Europe but which now grows prolifically in both sub-tropical and temperate areas throughout the world. It is an ancient herb, known and used extensively for many hundreds of years and until modern times was as much prized for its medicinal qualities as for its culinary value. It is a rich source of Vitamin C, but contributes little to the diet as it is eaten in small amounts.
The most common variety of parsley has tight curly leaves, deep green in colour and slender, light stalks. A flat-leaved parsley is also grown in parts of Europe. Parsley is available throughout the year.
In cookery, parsley is used primarily as a garnish for many soups, meat, fish or salad dishes although it is also sometimes cooked in stews and casseroles and added to stuffings and marinades. Both the leaves and stalks are used, although the stalks are sometimes omitted, especially when chopped parsley is called for. Parsley may be chopped or, when used as a garnish, left whole in small sprigs. Parsley is a necessary part of a BOUQUET GARNI.