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Parsley (Recipe: tzatziki) {vegetarian}


Simon and Garfunkel would feel right at home in my herb garden.

I have it all: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Can you see them in this photo?


I have lemon thyme and lemongrass, Thai basil and purple basil, chives and garlic chives too, but for some reason, I've never been able to grow dill.

Fresh herbs are an important part of The Perfect Pantry, even though they are only available from the garden for five months of the year. Of the four herbs of song, parsley will be first to go, as night temperatures begin their descent into winter. (Most of the tender basil has bid farewell for the year, though there is a fresh batch of pesto in the freezer.) It's a shame, too, because this year my parsley field produced the most glorious plants, rich in color and flavor, and, for the first time, I began to use my flat-leaf parsley not only as a garnish, but also as a valued ingredient in my cooking.

Fundamental to most cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean area, parsley comes in two main varieties: curly, which we all know from its rampant overuse as a garnish; and flat-leaf, also called Italian or French parsley, which has the best flavor.

Rich in Vitamins A and C, and iron, parsley is a biennial herb related to celery; in fact, the word "parsley" derives from a Greek word meaning "rock celery." Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, it's cultivated in many parts of the world.  Parsley is essential to several basic sauces and garnishes, including chimichurri, gremolata, salsa verde, chermoula and persillade -- and, of course, to tabbouleh.

To store parsley, wash it and dry almost completely. Wrap the damp parsley in a paper towel, and put the bundle inside a ziploc bag. Stored that way, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Parsley is one of those herbs I used to take for granted, but this year, when the last of the parsley succumbs to a hard frost, I will miss it.



This all-purpose yogurt sauce, adapted from a recipe our friend Greg taught to our cooking group, is the perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb, chicken or salmon. It's the last hurrah for my herb garden, and a big hurrah for the two-year anniversary of one of the blog world's most enduring and endearing features, Weekend Herb Blogging, the brainchild of Kalyn's Kitchen. As the dill in my garden bolted ages ago, parsley, along with cucumbers, are the star of this show, with a bit of store-bought dill. Makes 2-1/2 cups.


2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 small seedless (English) cucumber, unpeeled, or 1 regular cucumber, seeded
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp minced fresh dill (or use more parsley, if there's no dill in your garden)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Do ahead: Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt; place in another sieve and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.

Transfer thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can, and add to the yogurt. Mix in remaining ingredients, and adjust seasonings to taste.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Frittata with broccoli and garden herbs
Vegetable paella with spicy garlic sauce
Pasta puttanesca
Tyropita (cheese-filled phyllo triangles)
French potato salad with basic vinaigrette

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Your garden looks so wonderful. Everything looks so healthy. My parsley didn't do well at all this year and next year I think I'm moving it. Love the sound of this Tzatziki sauce too. Great photo! What do you mean you're not a food photographer! Thanks so much for joining the fun for the two year anniversary, I'm honored!

My parsley did better than my other herbs this strange summer so I started using more of it as well - glad I did! Apparently I was getting into an herb rut and have now been forced to climb out hahaha!

We had a rooftop garden this year and I was a bad neglectful mommy - my boyfriend did all the tending - as things are winding down up there - our tomato plant is still generating little tasty tomatoes - a great treat!!

Nothing enhances the flavour of a dish apart from fresh herbs, lucky you to have them!
They're much much better than the dried ones!
And your sauce is really tempting Lydia:)
Have a great week ahead:)

I think I'd be comfortable in your garden, too. What a nice garden you have -- lucky you! I love your sauce.


Kalyn, wouldn't miss your two-year party for all the world! Funny, now that I think about it, I moved my parsley patch this year, and it did better than ever. Maybe that's the secret.

Katie, your garden is so beautiful. Do you think the parsley phenomenon was just due to the weather this year -- and not to an improvement in my gardening skills??! Ah, well, whatever the reason, I'm delighted, because I really discovered parsley in a new way this summer.

Radish, having tomatoes on your rooftop sounds wonderful!

Valentina, when I first moved to this house and had room for a real garden, I thought about what I could grow that wouldn't take huge gobs of time but would make a difference in my cooking. So I put in an herb garden. That was three years ago, and I'm finally getting the hang of it!

Paz, one thing I love about my garden is that it's not too organized. I grow lots of perennial herbs (thyme is the one I use most, but I also have the chives, sage, lemon thyme, oregano, etc.), and each year I adjust the amount of annuals (basil, parsley, rosemary, and the dill that never survives). One year I had a few tomato plants, but the rabbits got to them before I did!

Your garden looks wonderful; I have some in mine now, but the last winter was so difficult for plants, too cold, now at the spring is the true's time but to know what`s Ok. I love this recipe, I like too ciboulette, sweet basil,parsley and oregano!I make a sauce with natural yougourt and ciboulette, yummy! xxxGloria

Your garden looks lovely. A facinating post too, and a great idea to use parsley in tzaki, would help with the garlic too :)

Lydia, your herb garden is so beautiful. I am gorwing some herb pots in my balcony, too since it is spring here... And I really like your tzatziki!

What nice photos of your garden! I would love to have an herb garden, but I travel so frequently, that I worry that it would lack care. Still, there must be a way ...

Gloria, thank you; it's taken me a few years to understand how my herb garden works and where some of the herbs are happiest. Your sauce sounds yummy, too.

Kelly-Jane, I've been putting my parsley into everything this year. It's got an amazing fresh taste.

Anh, thank you, and how nice that you're growing herbs on your balcony. Isn't it fun to reach into the pot, harvest a handful of something, and cook with it right away?

TW, I think the way is to share a garden (or window box or pots of herbs) with a neighbor who doesn't travel! Because you don't want to give up traveling just to have an herb garden....

Your herb garden looks so nice. Planting herbs is on my "To Do" list for next year.

Zenon in my neighborhood, GreekTown, Astoria - NY, makes the best TZATZIKI I've yet to taste..but I'd love to make it myself.
I'll trt this!

I use fresh herbs whenever I can. They make a big difference. I love using flat-leaf parsley in my cooking especially in potatoes. Sage I love in pasta and chicken,

You have a beautiful garden! I'm a tad bit jealous and am vowing to start up my own garden this spring! I now have the Beatles song stuck in my head, and that tzatziki recipe looks great! I love dipping chicken souvlaki skewers into some great-tasting tzatziki!

Diane, it's a work in progress, but I was very pleased with it this year.

Paris, I'm glad to know about Zenon, as I'm often in Jackson Heights! Here's a deal -- I'll try this place, if you'll try this recipe.

Veron, I'm so addicted to my garden herbs now that in the winter I actually have trouble bringing myself to buy herbs in the market. It's one of the few things that will send me to a gourmet store, or Whole Foods.

Hillary, thank you. My first herb garden was quite small, but it's expanded each year. I love chicken souvlaki skewers, too.

I have just recently started cooking with parsley too...I used to think it didn't add much, but I've come to appreciate the clean, green flavor more lately. I bet it adds a lot to tzatziki. I'd love to know what you do with lemongrass -- I have a garden full but no real idea how/when to harvest it or what to put it in. Pretty garden!

That is such a thriving garden, Lydia! I'd love to come over and pick some fresh herbs for tonight's dinner! I just love tzatziki sauce too. I made it a couple of weeks ago with some red lentil dal and naan. I used parsley in mine, though dill would be lovely.

Jennifer, welcome to the parsley-lovers club. Lemongrass is so wonderful in Thai dishes. I use a lot of it to make Tom Yom Koong, the shrimp and lemongrass soup that's as good for clearing a cold as chicken soup -- or better, because it's spicy! It's also great in stir fry dishes. I dry or freeze it and have it all year.

Susan, whenever you are in the neighborhood, come on by. I grow huge amounts of herbs to supply the many cooking groups and classes here, and also to be able to share with friends. Each year my herb garden seems to expand just a bit farther into the perennial garden. And I do have some free-range mint growing in amongst the flowers!

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