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When I was growing up, parsley was the curly stuff that nice restaurants used as a garnish.  Everyone left it on the plate.  parsleycut

Then in the 80s, I started seeing Italian parsley listed in recipesThank goodness.  Italian  or flat leaf parsley is packed with sweet, fresh flavor.  These days, it is THE  garden crop I am never without.  parsley-tight

A true biennial, Italian parsley winters over in my Wake County garden.  I clip, wash, and chop green leaves  even on the coldest days–then put them in many of my favorite recipes–like this quick and easy go-to pasta from the food magazine, Cooking Light.

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tp://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pasta-with-prosciutto-peas-10000000226527/

My Italian parsley crop is lovely now–but as the weather warms it will bloom, turn leggy and die.parsley_wide Don’t even try to save it.  That’s the life cycle of a biennial plant.   

So new parsley plants are the works under grow lights on our dinning room table.  This parsley is  easy from seed or transplant, and very rewarding.  In fact, if you have almost no garden space at all, I would tell you, find space for a few herbs (like my favorite–Italian Parsley). 

What herbs do you love and grow?

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My parade of herbs

One of the most powerful gardening experiences is eating what you grow.  While it is a powerful experience indeed, being southern makes it a cultural expectation. This notion was so brilliantly articulated from the character “Ouiser” played by Shirley MacLaine in the movie “Steel Magnolias”when she  shares this cultural expectation involving growing tomatoes. “Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt.”

So here is what i just planted:

Tomatoes galore.  From cherry variety Sweet Chelsea to grape variety Red Jelly Bean to giant Goliaths.  I foresee salads, bruschetta and tomato sandwiches.

Yum...future tomato sandwiches

Summer Squash and Zucchini.  A staple for any southern summer vegetable garden.  Yum…sauteed squash and onions, squash casserole and zucchini bread.

Cool Cucumbers.  I went with the burpless and have both a pickling kind and salad slicer.  I need to go to a nursery and see if I can get my hands on this lemon cucumber I have heard rave reviews about.  Let’s see…images of old fashion cucumbers and vinegar and dill pickles come to mind.

A new one, eggplant.  I have never grown this one, but thought I would give it a whirl.  I got the japanese variety so wish me luck.  Don’t have a prep plan for those yet…but have some time to research.

A new one...Japanese Eggplant

Finally a showcase of herbs…basil, italian parsley, cilantro, dill, thyme and sage…this rounds out my culinary planting for now.

Basil is simply a "must grow." Plant it in pots near your house so you have easy access!

What’s in your edible garden?  Any must plants I need to add…I still have a little space left.

Happy Gardening.

melissa


So last night, the garden helped save dinner. We were cooking a tri-tip roast and didn’t really have any ideas on seasoning and sides…the dinner decision delimnia.

But luckily, we had fresh cilantro and parsely to save the day–straight from my winter garden.  I whipped up a chimichurri dressing for our beef salads.  Too die for.  Usually chimichurri has the consistency of pesto, a thick sauce.  But I was able to thin it out with olive oil and rice vinegar to make a wicked salad dressing.

Chimichurri to die for!

What does chimichurri taste like?  Well, it is kind of sour, very garlicly and had the freshness that only herbs can provide. It is from Argentina, where they use it like we use A1 steak sauce.  I remember when I traveled to Buenos Aries to stay with a friend, it was always a staple at the dinner table…like our ketchup or ranch dressing. Yum…that takes me back to the best steak I have ever eaten and the best barbeque I have ever participated in called an asado.  It is where they cook every part of the cow in this huge open fire.  Even the seemingly icky parts were delicious.

Here is the recipe from Weber: Way to Grill:

4 large garlic cloves

1 1/4 cup of loosely packed fresh Italain parsley

1 1/4 cup of loosely packed cilantro

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of rice vinefar

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

To make the dressing version, I just reduced the amount of herbs, 1 cup of cilantro and 1/2 cup of parsely.

That is how dinner was saved by the garden.

So if  you are trying to spice up your dinners a little…try chimchurri sauce or dressing.  You will be pleasantly surprised.

Which reminds me, when you are thinking about what to plant in the garden.  Here is another reason to plant Italian parsely and cilantro.  A tip on the cilantro…you must plant it in the fall.  It needs a little cooler temperature to grow well.  I made that mistake the first year I tired growing cilantro.

Happy Gardening.

melissa

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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