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Parsley is a popular herb which provides the final touch to many dishes. In Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll find hardly any dish that isn’t garnished with a generous amount of chopped parsley. Besides, there are a number of delicious parsley based dishes, such as the famous tabbouleh salad.
Do you find it tedious to chop parsley, or have you never used it before and wonder how to chop parsley? I’ve created this guide for you on how to prepare parsley, from washing, chopping to storing it. You’ll also find some recipe ideas with parsley.
What is Parsley?
Parsley is a herb from the Apiaceae family. There are two types of parsley: flat-leaf parsley and curly parsley, with flat-leaf parsley being the most commonly used. Parsley is home to the Mediterranean region. Today, it’s grown and widely used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, European and American cuisine.
Flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley) has a strong, almost peppery zing which makes it a great herb for seasoning. It’s often used along with other herbs such as cilantro, basil and oregano. Curly parsley has a milder flavor. It’s less common in Middle Eastern cuisine. Curly parsley is great for creating a visually appealing garnishing. No surprise it’s popular with French chefs.
By the way, parsley is milder in taste than coriander (cilantro). While the tastes are quite different, parsley can be used as a substitute for cilantro for garnishing.
How to Chop Parsley
Have you been plucking off and chopping the individual leaves to add as garnish or salads or soup? You are probably wondering if there is an efficient way to cut a whole bunch of parsley for a salad like tabbouleh.
Actually, chopping parsley is fairly easy and quick. I share the best method to chop flat-leaf parsley that is easy and quick. You no longer have to spend half an hour pulling out individual leaves, nor throwing the parsley in the blender.
Step 1: Wash the parsley
First of all, I recommend that you always wash parsley. Store bought herbs tend to be prewashed, but you better give it a good rinse anyway.
Grab some sprigs or the whole bunch of parsley (with their stems intact). You can hold the bunch in your hand (hold the parsley on the stems). Wash under cold running water. Shake a bit to ensure the water gets to all leaves.
If you’ve bought parsley from the farmer’s market, it’s generally not prewashed. That means it could still have a layer of dirt and debris. The best way to ensure the parsley is washed correctly, add water to a large bowl, and dip your parsley in it. Swish it around to remove the dirt. If the water gets murky, throw away and rinse again in fresh water.
After washing the parsley, dry it off with a kitchen towel or paper napkins to remove excess moisture.
Step 2: Slice off the thick stems
You can chop the entire bunch of parsley, or parts of it. Place the desired amount of parsley on a cutting board. Bring the parsley stems together. Your sprigs should look like an herb bouquet.
Place the knife at the lower end of the parsley leaves, where the thick stems (that don’t have leaves) begin. Chop off the longer woody stems in one cut. Discard the thicker stems and continue with the upper part of the parsley bunch.
Step 3: Chop the leaves
Bring the leafy ends together. With a rocking and angled motion of the knife, chop the parsley from one end to the other. Chop it any way you prefer or need for a particular recipe: coarse, medium, or fine. You might have to cut through the entire bunch two or three times for a finer chop.
The best and easiest way to chop parsley is the so-called “rock chop method”. In this method, the tip of the blade remains on the cutting board, while you move the knife up and down to chop the parsley. You don’t have to move fast to chop parsley. On the contrary, the right technique is what matters. Try to maintain control over the knife to ensure proper cutting.
Parsley Preparation Tips
- Always chop herbs with a sharp knife. The best knife for this job is a chef’s knife. With a sharper knife, chopping becomes faster and more accurate. Dull blades will make chopping tedious and less precise.
- It’s possible to chop parsley in a food processor. When preparing in a blender, the parsley should be completely dry. Pulse instead of blending, as over-blending can easily result in a purée, which isn’t what you want. Adding smaller quantities at a time ensures that your parsley is chopped evenly. Once you know how to properly chop parsley with a knife, you’ll probably prefer not to use the blender. Trust me, chopping parsley by hand is faster than cleaning your blender afterwards.
- If you’ve bought a lot of parsley or your garden is in a parsley bloom, you could end with more than you can possibly utilize in a short time. Dehydrate the leaves after cleaning and patting them dry. Crush the dried leaves and store in an airtight container.
How to Store Fresh Parsley
There are several ways you can store parsley. Depending on the method, the herb will last from a few days to two weeks.
- Try this storage method when you plan to use the herb within 4-5 days. Wrap the lower end (thick stems) of the parsley bunch in kitchen paper. The paper should be damp, not wet. Wrap a plastic bag or a ziploc bag around the paper. Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- The second method is a bit more time consuming, but worthwhile if you’d like to store parsley for a longer time. Trim off a part of the thick stigs (about half). Place the bunch of parsley in a jar of cold water and store inside the fridge. Tie together the bunch to make storage and chopping easier. Don’t forget to replace the water every few days. With this method, you can properly store flat-leaf and curly parsley in the fridge for almost two weeks.
- Have leftover chopped parsley? Line a container with a damp paper towel. Place the chopped parsley inside and close the lid. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Recipes with Parsley
Parsley is popular for garnishing and seasoning. It’s great for dips, sauces, stews, rice dishes and salads.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll find chopped parsley sprinkled over almost anything. It’s probably the most used garnish.
The signature parsley dish of the Middle East is tabbouleh. It’s often called Middle Eastern parsley salad. It consists of finely chopped parsley, bulgur, tomatoes and cucumbers. You’ll also need parsley to make falafel, kofta kebab, sambousak and many more dishes.
The options to use this flavorsome herb are endless.
Any Questions or Feedback?
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How to Chop Parsley
- 1 Chef's knife
- 1 bunch parsley
- Grab the parsley on the long stems. Wash it under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Slice off the thick stems below the parsley leaves.
- Bring the leaves together. Chop them in a rocking and angled motion. To finely chop, chop the entire bunch two or three times.