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Italian parsley is a leafy herb that grows small in stature, around one foot tall and about the same around. The multi-branched Italian parsley has bright green stems that are tender when young and grow woody as the plant matures. The leaves are triangular, flat, and deeply toothed, divided into three sections with multiple leaves growing along the tops of the stems. The flat-leafed variety is hardier than the curly variety, and it has a stronger aroma and flavor that is slightly less bitter. The flavor is often described as fresh and green, with hints of citrus, clove and nutmeg and an earthy taste. In its 2nd year, Italian parsley will flower, with circular bunches of small white flowers atop thin stems.
Italian parsley is available year-round.
Italian parsley is a cousin of the curly variety often spotted on a dish as a garnish. The botanical name for Italian parsley is Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum, though it is often referred to as “flat-leafed parsley.” The aromatic herb is in the carrot family and gets its name from its likely place of origin. Italian parsley is grown not only for its aromatic leaves but also its stems, which are featured in the classic French seasoning ‘bouquet garni,’ that also includes fresh sprigs of thyme and dry bay leaves. In addition to the Italian and curly varieties, there is a third parsley variety called Hamburg, which is grown for its long, salsify-like root and used mainly for medicinal purposes.