With the correct tools and knowledge, it can be an easy task to chop parsley. When chopping the herb by hand, a sharp knife and a clear working area can help make the process fast, clean and efficient. Other methods, such as using a food processor or scissors, also can be effective but have some drawbacks depending on the size of the pieces needed or the amount of parsley being chopped. There are even names for specific ways to chop parsley, as is the case with persillade, a way to chop parsley with garlic that is used in French cuisine.
To chop parsley by hand, one of the first steps is to wash the parsley and dry it thoroughly. This can be done by pressing the herb between paper towels or by using a salad spinner. Drying parsley has two effects, the first of which is to make it crisp so a knife will cut through it cleanly and with little effort. The second benefit from completely drying parsley is that the flakes will not stick as readily to surfaces such as fingers, cutting boards and the knife itself.
Dried parsley should be placed on a flat surface, preferably a cutting board. The safest way to chop parsley is on a flat surface so there is a minimal chance of the knife slipping. The stems can be left on the parsley but, if a recipe strictly calls for only parsley leaves, then the leaves can quickly be shaved from the stems with a sharp knife.
Holding the parsley down with one hand, the knife is drawn down across the leaves to cut the parsley to the desired size. The weight of the knife should be used to perform the cuts, as opposed to pressing down hard on the knife. Additionally, the hand holding the parsley down should have the finger tips and thumb curled under, with the flat side of the knife gently resting against the first knuckles of the fingers.
After one pass through the herb, the parsley should be coarsely diced in relatively large pieces. To achieve a smaller dice, a different technique can be used. This involves gently holding down the far end of the cutting knife, near the tip, while the handle is raised and lowered, running the blade through the coarse chop to make it finer. The end of the knife being held down acts as a pivot point that allows the handle to be slowly moved to pass the blade through the entire pile of parsley until it is small enough to use.
It also is possible to chop parsley using a food processor, though, if not performed carefully or if the parsley is too wet, it can quickly turn to paste. A food processor also will not chop parsley at all if the amount used is too small to reach the blades. Scissors can be used to chop parsley into large pieces, but this runs the risk of bruising the parsley, potentially causing it to wilt much quicker than if it were chopped with a sharp knife.