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How do I know whether I should use flat-leaf or curly-leaf parsley? I'm interested mostly in their uses as ingredients, but guidance on usage as garnishes is also welcome.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Flat-leaf (also called Italian Parsley) and curly parsley can be used interchangeably but most chefs prefer flat leaf as it usually has a more distinct taste. That is going to be up to you and your preference.

Curly parsley provides a more unique and visually interesting look when you're talking about garnishes but putting a sprig of parsley on a plate is what would be called a "non-functional" garnish. Aside from adding a bit of green it serves no purpose as very few people I know will pop it in their mouth and eat it. You're better to sprinkle with chopped parsley or herbs that can help enhance/accent the flavor.

Curly parsley is also visually appealing used in a parsley salad due again to the ruffled edges.

I usually use flat-leaf if available, then curly if flat-leaf isn't available. Under no circumstances (except if you just need a touch of green dust) do I recommend using dried parsley. Clippings from the underside of yor lawn-mower probably have more flavor. Same goes for dried chives.

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3  
+1 for lawnmower reference. –  Ben McCormack Jul 24 '10 at 16:48
    
I find that the Simply Organic dried parsley has pretty good taste. Not sure what they do with it, but it's green where every other dried parsley I've seen is mostly brown/yellow. –  ceejayoz Jul 24 '10 at 18:08
    
Has anyone seen or heard of "Litehouse" brand of Freeze-Dried herbs? A friend of mine recently told me about them and she thought they had a much more vibrant taste than other dried herbs. It's a product produced in Germany but imported through a company in Idaho. She found them in a store in North Carolina but can't find them locally here in Savannah, GA. –  Darin Sehnert Jul 26 '10 at 4:16

I personally can't tell the difference in the taste.

I feel that flat-leaf is easier to chop but YMMV.

Lately we've had curly. We can store this in the same glass as cilantro (as per these instructions) and easily tell the 2 apart -- which I find very convenient.

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Flat parsley is more for Southern European cooking and has a stronger taste.

Curly parsley is more for Northern European cooking - British cooking in particular. For example it is perfect for cod is parsley sauce. It's much milder and less bitter in its raw form.

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Frankly, I think the difference comes down to texture. If I'm not cooking it, I always use the flat parsley, as I find the curly to have a very harsh, rough mouth feel to it.

Other than that, I don't think it matters.

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