For centuries they were part of the standard winter kitchen repertoire. Then came the potato! It surpassed the Parsnip and Parsley Root brothers and developed very successfully to become a trendsetter first and then an all-rounder in the kitchen. What remained was the memory of a somewhat old-fashioned, cream-colored winter vegetable that somehow belongs in soup greens. At least the parsley root… A serious culinary mistake! Because the old tuber is a real all-rounder! It is not only tasty, healthy and easy to prepare, but also very digestible and from – refined to sober – extremely versatile in preparation. So it's no wonder that the rather pale and inconspicuous relatives of the carrot have been building a fast-growing fan base for quite some time.
Even our ancestors knew it:Winter time is carrot time! In addition to carrots, beetroot, kohlrabi and celeriac, parsnip and parsley root are not only a safe staple food, but also an exciting trend ingredient in the winter kitchen. No wonder when you think of preparations à la rösti with poached egg, parsnip soup with lamb's lettuce pesto, a spicy leek, parsnip and Brussels sprouts gratin or a parsley carrot soup with parsnip and forest honey salad. In addition, they are more filling and healthier than many leafy and summer vegetables and their tubers or roots store minerals and other important nutrients such as vitamins and trace elements very effectively.
However, unlike other root vegetables, the two comeback candidates are so similar that they can easily be confused. Both parsnip and parsley root are in peak season during the fall and winter months. Both are creamy white and come together in a carrot shape. An outward resemblance to the old turnips, which is no coincidence:because botanists consider parsnips to be a cross between carrot and parsley and parsley roots as a subspecies of parsley.
But despite all the parallels, there are differences:Parsley roots are usually between 3 – 5 cm thick in the head area and up to 20 cm long. A parsnip, on the other hand, can sometimes be longer and especially has a significantly thicker head. The best distinguishing criterion, except for the leaf base – in the parsnip it seems sunken, in the parsley root it is bent upwards – is the smell!
The parsnip smells like carrot and has a pleasant nutty-sour sweetness. After the first frost, as a real winter vegetable, it tastes even milder and sweeter. Their aroma harmonises perfectly with carrots and potatoes and is ideal in soups and stews, baked, as roasted vegetables from the oven, caramelized or pureed as a fine vegetable side dish.
The parsley root, on the other hand, smells and tastes unmistakably like parsley – with a hint of anise. This makes it an ideal ingredient in soups and stews and a traditional ingredient in classic soup vegetables. But the parsley root also cuts a good figure on the menu in other ways. For example as a fried or steamed vegetable side dish or in a potato and parsley root puree.
Parsnips and parsley roots keep us fit in the winter. They contain valuable B vitamins, vitamins K and C, are packed with iron, potassium, calcium and filling carbohydrates. As the cream-colored carrots not only taste pleasantly sweet, but are also highly digestible and stomach-friendly, they are popular with adults and children alike and are often an ingredient in baby porridge.
With parsnips and parsley roots, you should pay attention to a firm skin, a fresh smell and the color of the green. The following also applies to the selection of the specimens:the smaller, the finer and tastier.
The root vegetables like cold. In a dark place in the basement and in sand or soil, the roots stand almost all year round. If you don't have any of these options, you can store both parsnips and parsley root unwashed for one to two weeks in a slightly damp cloth in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Carrots that have already been cut are best wrapped in aluminum foil. Refrigerated they stay good for about a week.
Hint: Alternatively, parsnips can also be blanched briefly and then frozen so that you can enjoy the aromatic roots in summer too.
Handling parsnips and parsley roots is child's play:first brush and wash the roots thoroughly – just like carrots. Then peel with a vegetable peeler, cut off the two ends and cut into slices, sticks or cubes, depending on the recipe. Whether boiled, baked or baked – they go with almost everything!
The root vegetables taste great raw, baked, boiled, stewed, mashed or as “carrot fries”. Parsnips and parsley roots are just as well suited to hearty home cooking as they are to fine cuisine. For example, parsnip puree is a delicious accompaniment to game dishes or winter vegetable pans. Alternatively, they can be baked in the oven with a little olive oil. And if you're looking for something really special, try parsnip chips. Simply cut the carrot into thin slices, fry in oil and you're done!
In terms of versatility, parsley roots are in no way inferior. They are delicious in cream soups. But also pureed with crème frache or steamed, delicious with poultry. Simply cut the carrot into thin slices, steam with a little water and butter and sprinkle with parsley. If you like it more refined, glaze the steamed vegetables with a little sugar or honey and taste with wine vinegar. Delicious!