Parsnip & Parsley Root – the Twins that Aren’t

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Winter time is root vegetable time! And two of the main players in this category are parsnip and parsley root, both of which make a frequent appearance in soup veg bundles. I have noticed that very few people realise these two are very different types of vegetables. But no wonder, they look uncannily alike!

For a long time, both the parsnip and the parsley root took kind of a back seat. Until the 18th century, however, parsnips were a basic staple in the kitchens of Central Europe until they were pushed off their pedestal by potatoes and carrots. Now they are having a revival - as a delicious and healthy winter veg.

Parsley root – also called Hamburg root parsley – is, no surprise here, a parsley variety. The parsley root's leaves look and taste like flat leaf parsley and can be used as such.

The root itself is longish with a pointy end and has a pale yellow to light brown colour. Parsnips, on the other hand, are cone-shaped with a thicker root head, similar to a big carrot. They have a strong and slightly sweet aroma.

So now, these two are having a glorious comeback due to a few creative and trendy chefs who have brought them back to our kitchens. Parsley root, for example, we have now realised, is so much more than just a soup veg: it can turn a dish into a veritable delicacy. Its new popularity is probably due to its very distinct flavour: pleasantly mild but intense at the same time.

Parsley root cooks fast and is extremely versatile - not just for use in clear veggie broths, no, but as a side dish in its own right, seasoned with honey and white wine vinegar or as a mash in combination with potatoes. Also, grated into winter salads or sliced au gratin. Try it!

Parsnips are great in soups or stews as well. Sliced and steamed, they work very well as a side dish to lamb, game or beef. I also love a simple parsnip and potato mash. And they greatly enhance any salad, in their raw and grated form.

Parent alert: due to its sweet flavour and easy digestibility, the parsnip is the ideal baby food.

Something you have to absolutely try: clean a parsnip's peel bits and fry them - this makes a crunchy and delicious snack. There's some zero-waste cooking for you!

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And healthy to boot...

Compared to other root vegetables, Parsnips are very starchy and therefore count among the most fibre-rich types of vegetable.  The parsnip's subtly aromatic flavour is produced by its high essential oil content. Parsnips pack valuable minerals, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron as well as vitamins A, C, E and several B-vitamins.

Parsley root is equally full of essential ingredients. Alongside B-vitamins, potassium, calcium and iron, it also has a high folic acid and vitamin E content and is a fantastic source of vitamin C: one 200g portion of parsley root covers 80% of the daily recommended dosage. Its savoury flavour comes from the essential oils contained within, which, aside from their antimicrobial qualities, also make this root easily digestible.

The parsley root is also a figure-friendly veg, containing a mere 20 calories and only around 0,5 grams of fat per 100 g.

Parsnips and parsley root both keep well for quite a long time in a cool environment. Blanched and frozen, they last about 8 to 10 months.