Leaves: Two forms are available, flat leaf (Italian) and curly leaf. Flat leaf parsley has a leafy texture, stronger, more complex flavor and is used in cooking. Curly leaf is used as a decorative garnish, having a texture similar to plastic and flavor to match. Like plastic it is very resistent to wilting which enhances its decorative usefulness. Dried parsley has little flavor so fresh parsley, now available year-round, should always be used, unless you are trying to accurately reconstruct recipes from the Eisenhower era.
Fruit (Parsley seed) The seeds are little used for
culinary purposes except to grow parsley from. Getting it to sprout
is not easy because its outer coating contains a substance that supresses
sprouting. If grown in pots they should be deep to accomodate the
tap root. The seed does find some use in the herbal supplement
Parsley is used sparingly in American and European cooking, but is used in much larger quantity in the cooking of Turkey and North Africa where recipes can call for a cup of chopped parsley.
Buying and Storing: Always buy flat leaf parsley for cooking. Preferably buy fresh once a week, though if properly prepared it can keep in the fridge for about a week before it starts to yellow and lose flavor.
Parsley should be crisp and not at all wilted. If just a trifle wilted
it can be refreshed by cutting off the bottom of the stems and setting in
a cup of cold water, perhaps acidulated with just a few grains of citric
acid. When recovered, trim the stems again and rake out any loose bits
or yellowed leaves. Wrap lightly and refrigerate.
Root Parsley varieties have been developed that produce
large tap roots which are popular in cuisines of Central and Eastern
Europe. The flavor is more delicate and herbal and far less sweet than
that of parsnips so they are not at all interchangeable.
Buying & Storing: Parsley roots can be found in markets that serve a significant Central or Eastern European community. I get them from Jon's Market in Glendale which serves mainly Armenians, Georgians Ukranians and Latinos. Leave all or just an inch of the tops on and wrap loosley in plastic - they'll keep for at least 3 weeks refrigerated.
Cooking: Parsley root is generally cut into pieces before adding to soups and stews. It does not need long cooking, becoming tender in 5 minutes or so.