Food & Drink
How to Properly Chop Parsley & Basil
October 14, 2021
This post is in partnership with Zwilling. All opinions are my own.
If you are familiar with my recipes or if you’ve taken the time to watch my recipe videos, you may have noticed that nearly every one of them calls for fresh herbs. I use fresh herbs in my meat, chicken, and fish marinades. I use them in my soups, salads, salad dressing, and cocktails to add fresh, bright flavor. In addition to adding flavor, they can also be used as a garnish to add color and visual appeal.
Parsley and basil are two of my favorite herbs. Because I use them so frequently, I’ve had to learn how to properly and efficiently chop them. Below are my tips on how to properly chop fresh parsley and basil.
What You’ll Need
I’m a firm believer that investing in high-quality kitchen tools will help you work faster and smarter in the kitchen. The right set of comfortable, sturdy, and sharp knives will make chopping your fresh herbs a breeze. I was gifted my first set of Zwilling knives when I got married over 16 years ago. I recently decided to upgrade and purchased a set of Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Knives and let’s just say, I’M IN LOVE! Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Slim Knives have a blade profile that is 9% smaller and weighs 24% less than the original Zwilling Pro Knives. The slimmer profile allows for easier and crisper slicing. Women generally have smaller hands than men which is why the lightweight Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Slim Knives tend to feel more comfortable and provide more control. I would recommend starting with a 7-inch Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Slim Chef’s Knife which is what I use to chop most of my herbs. The 4-inch Zwilling Pro Le Blanc paring knife is also a very useful knife to have. It’s often called the “workhorse of the kitchen.” It can be used to peel fruit, remove seeds, devein shrimp and mince small ingredients like garlic cloves.
In addition to a good, comfortable knife, you’ll need the right cutting board, one that doesn’t dull your knife. I recommend getting a large maple or teak board. Plastic or marble boards will quickly dull your knives. Before you begin chopping, place a damp paper towel under your board to keep it from sliding.
One of the biggest mistakes most beginner cooks make when practicing their knife skills is wrapping all five fingers around the handle. Unfortunately, the handle grip while comfortable doesn’t allow for much control. Instead, switch to a blade grip for more control and precision. With a blade grip your forefinger and thumb rest on the blade itself. Try both grips and see if you notice the difference.
To protect your fingers, claw your hand by curling your fingers under. Place your clawed hand on top of the food you are about to cut into, then use your knuckles to guide the knife. Your middle finger knuckle should be leading and be sure to keep your thumb tucked in and protected.
Before I begin cutting into my parsley, I gently rinse and dry the leaves. Next, I use my Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Slim 7-inch Chef’s Knife to remove the leaves from the stems. Don’t discard the stems! The stems are full of flavor and can be used to make vegetable or chicken stock. Once you’ve removed the stems, gather your leaves into a small mound then use your clawed hand to guide your knife through the parsley. Your knife should cut forcefully through the parsley in a forward down and back motion. After a few passes through the leaves, place the hand that was clawed, on top of your knife and move through the leaves quickly in an up-and-down motion. Click on this video for visual reference.
I rarely mince basil. Instead, I use it whole in sauces and salads, or I chiffonade the leaves and sprinkle them on top of bruschetta and pizza. To chiffonade basil, you’ll want to first gently rinse and dry the basil leaves. Next stack four to six leaves on top of one another and roll the leaves into a tight log. Grab your Pro Le Blanc Slim 7-inch Chef’s Knife and forcefully cut through the “basil log” in a forward down and back motion to create thin basil ribbons. Basil bruises easily. Be sure to use a sharp knife to avoid bruising. Click on this video for visual reference.
I hope this helps! Feel free to message me with any questions!