Here in the Deep South, parsley grows best in our mild winters. Throughout the cool season, parsley gives the garden a vibrant green signature and provides color and freshness to winter soups and meats. As the days lengthen and the weather warms, parsley taken on a radiant lushness, but when daytime temperatures climb into the 70s, the plants bolt. I usually let most of my parsley come into bloom, since it’s very pretty, resembling Queen Anne’s lace, which is a cousin in the Umbelliferae family, along with angelica, dill, and carrots, among many others. Parsley is also a favorite food for caterpillars, monarchs foremost.
Parsley rarely constitutes the main ingredient of any dish; it’s most often used as an herb, and as such has the ability to help meld flavors in soups and stews, particularly when dried. Used fresh, parsley brings a citrusy snap to salads, cold soups, and condiments. It’s of course superfluous to mention that parsley makes a perfect garnish for almost any dish because it’s a natural breath freshener.
The two parsley dishes I’m most familiar with are unsurprisingly similar, but have different functions. One is tabbouleh, a distinct and iconic Lebanese salad, the other is chimichurri, a South American sauce—most say Argentinian, but dissenters claim it originated in Uruguay—primarily served cold as an accompaniment for grilled meats, but I find it a wonderful for cooking, good with chicken, better with fish. This recipe is very, very basic; many people use far less (or much more) garlic, some would never add tomatoes, and others think the parsley should be coarsely chopped. Me, I think that the parsley should be very, very well chopped, that finely-diced tomatoes are essential, and that garlic should be pronounced.
Mix 1 bunch (about 2 cups) chopped fresh parsley with a couple of sprigs (@ 2 tablespoons) chopped fresh oregano, 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced, with ½ cup olive oil, and 1 small tomato (preferably a ripe Roma) drained and finely diced. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Refrigerate in a sealed container for at least overnight before using. The flavor improves with time, but doesn’t keep for more than a week.