Parsley Plays a Starring Role in Rapunzel, Salads
As those of you who know your fairy tales might remember, parsley plays a pivotal role in Rapunzel. The expectant mother craves the herb (known in Germany as Rapunzel-Glockenblume) so acutely that she (or in some versions, her husband), steals some from a witch's garden. The witch uses the theft as leverage to claim the unborn girl for herself, and the fateful story unfolds.
Parsley has fallen somewhat in prestige to occupy a mostly ornamental place on restaurant plates. Recently I was in the salad aisle looking for a low-waste green option and my glance fell on parsley. Like many of you, I feel conflicted about buying those plastic clamshell containers of mixed lettuces, and since it's only me in my household it's all but impossible to go through a large bag of spinach. Since parsley is a main ingredient in tabouleh, why can't it serve as the basis of any kind of salad? It turns out that the leafy herb is surprisingly versatile and surpasses lettuces in shelf life. Washing and chopping the parsley, mixing it with oil, vinegar, and lemon, and storing it in an air-tight container supplies me with ready-made salad for about a week. It's also rich in nutrients like folate and vitamins C, K, and A, far surpassing the nutritional punch of pallid, fragile iceberg lettuce.
Both the curly variety and the Italian (flat) kind are good for salad. Here are some ideas:
- White beans, chopped green beans, and dijon mustard
- Avocado, tomato, mint leaves, lemon, and black beans
- Slivered almonds, goat cheese, pears or apples
- Pesto dressing made with silken tofu
There was a good reason the evil witch was growing parsley in her garden: leaves and stalks purportedly have medicinal as well as culinary properties. One revision to the fairy tale: pregnant mothers should probably not indulge their cravings for large amounts of parsley.
Read an excellent New York Times Review of Books article on fairy tales, food, and heroines.