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Parsley sauce is a cooking ingredient made with the herb parsley. Sauces made from parsley are usually white cream sauces similar to béchamel, but they can also be red-wine-based or tomato-based sauces. A versatile classic sauce, parsley sauce can be used for a variety of applications in cooking, but it is most often used to give flavor to seafood, pasta, and vegetables. Parsley sauce has its origins in French cuisine, but a thinner, more buttery version of parsley sauce called parsley liquor commonly accompanies mashed potatoes or savory pies served in Great Britain. In Argentina, a red-wine-based sauce with parsley is served with beef dishes.
Using the right type of parsley in this sauce is important to achieve a rich parsley flavor. Though any type of parsley can be used to make parsley sauce, most chefs prefer to use flat leaf parsley. Flat leaf parsley is known for having a stronger flavor than the curled-leaf variety, so it is a popular choice when using parsley flavor in a sauce. As an added bonus, flat leaf parsley is generally hardier and easier to grow in a kitchen garden than curled-leaf parsley. If curled leaf parsley is all that is available, adding extra parsley may be necessary to get the full parsley flavor intended in the original recipe.
Usually, fresh parsley is included as a garnish for parsley sauce dishes, typically chopped fresh or as a sprig on the side. Parsley springs are often eaten after a course or meal to cleanse the food flavors from the palate. They also have the reputation of clearing bad breath, especially when it is caused by garlic.
In addition to being a tasty ingredient in parsley sauce, parsley boasts a number of health benefits. Fresh parsley is a rich source of vitamins A and C. It also has a lot of folic acid, which can promote good heart health. A typical parsley sauce, though creamy, is only about 90 calories per serving.
A less-common variation of a creamy sauce made from parsley is parsley mayonnaise. Similar to an herb mayonnaise, this sauce uses dried parsley to flavor a homemade mayonnaise sauce. Parsley mayonnaise sauce is used on similar dishes as parsley cream sauce, including potatoes, seafood, and beef dishes. Herb mayonnaise is generally thicker than cream sauce, and is often served cold as a condiment rather than on a dish as an accompanying sauce.