Titan parsley. Sounds like a giant of an herb, right? It’s the oxymoronic name of the parsley pictured above on the right. Compared to the regular Italian flat-leaf parsley on the left, it looks downright diminutive. But what it lacks in size—and who says small is a negative, anyway?— it more than makes up for in a dynamic, slightly sweet flavor.
“It’s like parsley unplugged, without the astringency of normally cultivated parsley,” said Dan Barber, the visionary chef behind Blue Hill in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, north of the city. “We love titan parsley because of the clarity of its parsley flavor.”
I’ve been buying titan parsley for several years now from Paffenroth Gardens farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, described as “the Target of vegetable vendors” by Regina Schrambling in the New York Times, and a more apt analogy there isn’t. Owner Alex Paffenroth provides a panoply of produce, and he’s the only farmer I know of at Union Square who offers titan parsley. But Paffenroth doesn’t just grow it. He features it with an informative sign and prominent placement amongst his many offerings, so it’s hard to miss.
Although Paffenroth supplies plenty of the usual suspects in the vegetable world, “I’m always looking to try new things,” he says. When I mentioned how much I liked the titan parsley, he replied that it had proved to be a hit among chefs. “Which chefs?” I couldn’t help asking. When he told me that Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns are his biggest customers, I put a call into chef Dan Barber. Continue reading