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It's true, curly parsley has an unfortunate stereotype of the retro garnish on restaurant plates. But that's no reason to dismiss it as I have all these years. Its curliness is unique and I'm enjoying using it again. The fine, pinnate leaves of curly parsley have a texture, that in my mind adds a unique quality to recipes. Most importantly, parsley of any variety is a valuable and nutritious plant.
I really don't find any difference in the taste of curly to flat – leaf parsley and I see no reason not to cook with it. I've been to many garden plant sales this season and often the flat leaf parsley shelf would be wiped out. Next to that would be a full shelf of curly parsley, untouched. This saddened me. It is a pert, pretty plant in its own right and it should hold a proud place in the garden.
I prefer curly to flat leaf in tabbouleh. It really adds a presence to the chewy cracked wheat and crisp cukes. My favorite use is for fried parsley. There is nothing quite like it.
The leaves turn deep, rich green and stay crispy for hours. I use a small amount of oil, maybe 1/2 inch in a small saucepan. Light dusted with flour, batches of curly parsley fry up in seconds. Talk about an impressive garnish, use it to adorn rice, pasta, steamed or pan fried fish, grilled eggplant and peppers or crostinis and bruscettas. Grow it in your garden next year or plant it in a large pot and start using it again.