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I have a recipe that calls for fresh parsley. I have substituted other fresh herbs for their dried equivalents but I don't have fresh or dried parsley. Is there something else (ex another dried herb) that I can use instead of parsley?

I know it is used mainly for looks rather than taste but I have a pasta recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons of parsley in the sauce and then another 2 tablespoons on top when it is done. I know the parsley on top is more for looks but there must be something about the taste otherwise it would call for parsley within the sauce as well.

I would especially like to hear about substitutes available in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world where the obvious answers (such as cilantro) are not widely available.

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Are you using fresh herbs or dry? What is the dish? –  Joel Spolsky Jul 9 '10 at 19:11
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Agree with Joel. Totally depends what the recipe is. You may in fact be best off leaving it out and relying on other flavors instead. –  Harlan Jul 9 '10 at 19:27
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Parsley is very easy to grow. Could you buy some seeds and put them in a windowsill pot? –  ceejayoz Aug 10 '10 at 13:31
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8 Answers

You mentioned that you are making a pasta dish with sauce. So, what cuisine is the dish that you are cooking? I'd say replace the parsley with an herb or spice that fits the cuisine.

If for example, it was an Italian dish, I would have no hesitation in using basil. It's a different flavor, but fits the cuisine. Or a SE Asian dish, then cilantro might just work.

Second thing, try out other possibilities in the same plant family. Here's a link. http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/py_parsley.html

Here's a possibility from the above link:

Mitsuba - [Japanese wild parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica alt. Cryptotaenia canadensis subsp. japonica]

Native to North America and East Asia this plant is used as an herb seasoning and sprouts are used in salads. It is described as similar to angelica.

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You might try Thai or European celery leaves as a substitute.

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Can you find seeds anywhere? Parsley is easy to grow in pots, so you could manage even if you live in an apartment.

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I can look, but I haven't seen them yet. Might see if there's anywhere I can get them from that ship to Thailand. –  Daniel Bingham Aug 11 '10 at 2:47
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Some, but YMMV (meaning: I can't speak on availability, but I expect cilantro to not be a problem):

  • Chervil
  • Cilantro
  • Earth Chestnut

I personally think parsley and cilantro are miles apart, but different strokes for different folks.

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They're miles apart, I agree with you. –  Daniel Bingham Aug 10 '10 at 13:30
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  1. Depending on what your original recipe is and what your tastebuds like, you could use any mild green herb although the character of the dish would be different: basil and dill do not taste like parsley.

  2. Parsley is not 'just a garnish'! Many dishes, like tabbouli, absolutely rely on parsley. Parsley has its own flavor and texture (as you guessed when you said, "there must be something about the taste otherwise it would call for parsley within the sauce as well").

  3. If your recipe calls for fresh parsley, you will want to use fresh parsley, or fresh something else in its place. Dried herbs cannot give the same vivacity.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I found this answer on the Discuss Cooking forum. If looking to substitute parsley for flavor do not use cilantro as "the flavors are nothing at all alike". Instead you can use

chopped chervil (closest to parsley that you can get, i think), angelica, dill, lovage, savory, basil, etc

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basil? Wow... See, this is what makes substitution so interesting –  Shog9 Jul 13 '10 at 19:31
    
I know! Its amazing what you can use to substitute something else. –  Kyra Jul 13 '10 at 20:03
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Dill and basil would completely change the taste in my opinion. You'd be much better off using nothing. If you don't agree try the blindfold test with the dried version of each. –  Bryant Jul 14 '10 at 15:55
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Maybe. Depending on the recipe though it might make it taste better. I added basil to one of my recipes that called for parsley and I loved it. :D –  Kyra Jul 14 '10 at 16:12
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Cook's Thesaurus also suggests celery tops. I think I could see that as a substitute: foodsubs.com/HerbsEur.html#parsley –  Joe Jul 16 '10 at 0:33
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Cilantro leaves might do, depending on what flavor you're after. If it calls for fresh and you only have dried, don't bother though.

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I don't think cilantro would give you a good substitution for parsley at all. Completely different flavor profiles and there are many people who just can't stand cilantro! –  JoshFinnie Jul 13 '10 at 18:38
    
Cilantro is delicious and looks exactly the same as parsley. But DO NOT SUBSTITUTE. Cilantro tastes citrusy and has a very strong flavor. Parsley tastes completely different, it's subtle and earthy. Cilantro goes well with spicy foods. –  Daniel Bingham Jul 26 '10 at 15:09
    
Eh, fair enough. I must confess, I love the taste of cilantro but tend to find parsley bland and bitter, so my preference for substitution probably reflects this. I also tend to rely on dried parsley for stews (it seems to lose some of its bitterness when dried), whereas I never use dried cilantro for anything. –  Shog9 Jul 26 '10 at 17:44
    
Keep in mind that about 10% of the population can't stand cilantro. It's one of those odd hereditary taste characteristics -- it actually tastes bad to them. –  Chris Cudmore Aug 5 '10 at 16:42
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Parsley is usually used more for looks than for taste. If you don't have it, then you can probably leave it out.

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