We are constantly confronted with the task of distinguishing between things—people, places, and, of course, different types of produce. It’s no surprise that the most-viewed topics on my blog revolve around explaining these differences. In the realm of produce, one question that frequently arises is the distinction between flat leaf, Italian, and curly parsley.
Italian and Flat Leaf: Are They Identical?
To begin with, let’s clear up the confusion surrounding Italian and Flat Leaf Parsley. Essentially, they refer to the same thing. The name used depends on the store you’re visiting. This parsley variety originated in southern Italy, hence the name “Italian parsley.” Its leaves are flat, resembling cilantro. It’s easy to mistake the two if you’re not paying close attention. Picture this: you’re browsing through a grocery store, and there they are, side by side. However, the taste will undoubtedly reveal the truth—cilantro has a distinct flavor that unmistakably sets it apart. To avoid confusion, remember that parsley leaves are pointy, while cilantro leaves are round. Additionally, the bunches of parsley are typically labeled, specifying which herb you’re holding. While cilantro may sometimes be called Chinese or Mexican parsley, this is a rarity.
Italian/Flat Leaf versus Curly Parsley
Distinguishing between curly and flat leaf parsley is much simpler than differentiating flat leaf parsley from cilantro. As the name suggests, curly parsley is, well, curly. Apart from their appearances, these two varieties also differ in flavor. Curly parsley boasts a stronger, more assertive taste, asserting its presence in any dish. On the other hand, flat leaf parsley tends to serve as a background flavor, adding a touch of freshness to various dishes, such as my beloved Moroccan Pot Roast.
Can You Substitute Curly Parsley for Flat Leaf?
When it comes to substituting one for the other, it all boils down to personal taste preferences. If the store happens to be out of one variety, the other can be used as a replacement. However, when employing curly parsley, exercise caution and add it gradually to suit your palate. Since parsley is often added towards the end of the cooking process, you can adjust the quantity as needed. It’s worth noting that many recipes call for flat leaf parsley, likely because it is easier to chop due to its flat nature.
Making the Right Parsley Choice
Personally, I tend to opt for flat leaf parsley, especially when using it in recipes for the blog. I find that it looks more appealing when chopped and garnished on a dish. However, if you plan to use the whole herb, curly parsley remains visually striking when untouched on the plate.
The cost of parsley generally ranges from 75 cents to 2 dollars per bunch, varying depending on the store type—be it high-end or discount—and whether it is organic. The actual size of the bunch may differ from one shopping trip to another, as it is determined by the grower.
When you buy parsley, which variety do you prefer? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Whether you favor curly or flat leaf parsley, or whether you refer to it as flat leaf or curly, this versatile herb undoubtedly adds a refreshing touch to any dish.