Friday, August 28, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Parsley

Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe.  


Late summer/early fall is the perfect time to plant parsley.
It enjoys the abundant sunshine
without the extremes in heat and humidity.

This crop is easy to direct sow,
whether it is grown in containers or in the ground.
It also transplants well,
so getting a good many started indoors will ensure you have all you can use.
This member of the carrot family
is rich in Vitamins A, C, K, folic acid and potassium.
The flat-leafed Italian variety has been used medicinally through the years
as a digestive aid and antispasmodic.

Seeds can be planted 1/4 inch deep and once established,
 enjoy a bit of room to grow, about a foot apart. 
By the second year, it may grow to upwards of 3 feet.
Here they are grown in containers.

 After reaching maturity in anywhere from 60-80 days,
the sprigs can be cut at the base of the plant.
The fragrance is intoxicating!
This taste of freshness can be added to everything
from breads, to eggs, to soups and salads.
The plants will continue to produce for years,
and can be kept indoors if winters are extremely harsh.

An added bonus of growing this plant
is the ability to host a variety of caterpillars in the warmer months.
Not to worry, these aren't the kind that eat your vegetable crops.
The black swallowtail makes its home on parsley,
where it remains throughout its life cylce.
The butterfly lays its eggs there,
and the caterpillars come out and eat away!


Within a couple of weeks, they enclose themselves
in a chrysalis, where they remain from 10-14 days.

They emerge from their sleep, 
transformed into this amazing creature.
Eggs are laid and the whole cycle starts all over.
We've been sure to have enough parsley plants
so that we are graced with many of these fantastic critters.
That way, there's some for them and us!

Here's one way we savor the parsley
that the caterpillars haven't gotten to!

Jacque's Ragout of White Beans

1 lb.  white beans
1 1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 C chopped onion
5 sliced garlic cloves
2 t minced thyme
2 T chopped parsley 

In a large pot, combine beans with 6 C cold water and salt. 
Bring to a boil and simmer gently partially covered.
After 1 hour, check beans for tenderness.

While beans are simmering, sautee onions
and garlic in olive oil
with thyme and parsley for 10 minutes.
Add onion mixture to beans and cook 10 minutes more.
To thicken, puree 1 C of beans with hand blender
or in a blender or food processor.
Add more salt to taste, if needed.
Makes 4-6 servings.



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