After several years of what I consider rather offbeat selections, the Herb of the Year for 2021 is one of the most basic herbs of all, parsley.
Rich in vitamins (it has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C of any food,) and antioxidants, parsley is more than just a decoration for your plate. It qualifies as a superfood. 
The two most common forms are the curly and the flat-leafed Italian. Curly parsley is prettier and makes a great garnish, but I usually prefer the flat leaf variety because it’s easier to clean and chop up.
A third kind is grown for its root and is treated as a vegetable.
Growing your own parsley isn’t difficult, but I recommend starting with plants. Trying to raise it from seed will tax your patience. (It’s been said parsley has to go seven times to the devil before the seed will germinate!)
These days, fresh parsley can usually be found in stores year-round, but if you don’t have any on hand, frozen or dried will sometimes do in a pinch. I dry it by spreading it on a cookie sheet and leaving it in a 200 degree oven for an hour or so.
My “herby” friend, Kim Porter, passed along this parsley pesto recipe her mom, Betsy Smith, made when basil wasn’t available.

Parsley Pesto
2 C. fresh parsley (curly or flat)
1/2 C. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C. pecans
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 C. olive oil (approximate)
Dash of salt and fresh cracked pepper
Pulse ingredients to a rough paste in a food processor. Slowly add olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper.
Store in refrigerator one week. Makes about 2 cups. (It’s great over hot pasta or a grilled baguette slice.)

Kim herself “doctored up” this fiber-rich salad.

Fresh Parsley Bean Salad
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 C. fresh parsley (curly or flat,) chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small Bermuda onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. olive oil
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sugar or honey
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Mix oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper flakes and sugar until emulsified. Pour over remaining ingredients and gently toss. Serves 6.
Normally, I’d be writing about the Herb Society of Central Indiana celebrating parsley at their Spring Symposium, but since this year’s Symposium has been cancelled due to the pandemic, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the Society itself instead.
Founded in 1996, the HSCI’s mission is “to promote the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research and sharing the experience of our members with the community.”
Their meetings are great opportunities to learn about herbs. Under normal circumstances, these take place the first Monday of each month at the Clay Township Center on North College Avenue, but currently most of their events are virtual.
Among the HSCI’s ongoing projects are the maintenance of an herb garden at White River Gardens, the presentation of workshops at Garfield Park and helping judge 4-H herb entries at the Indiana State Fair.
The annual Spring Symposium is the Society’s big moneymaker. The proceeds from it fund a scholarship for a culinary student at one of the local colleges.
For more information about the HSCI, visit their website, www.herbsocietyofcentralindiana.org.
Notable Nineties update: Noblesville City Clerk Evelyn Lees has added her husband’s uncle, Ivan “Sonny” Sherman to the list. Congratulations, Sonny!

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com