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Root parsley.

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I found root parsley in a large deli last week -- and bought lots, of course.

Finding root parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. radicosum) is difficult. Trouble is, if you want any kind of crop except leaf from root parsley, you have to sow your seeds in autumn. Not many people know that.

And not many people know root parsley, so there's no demand, so even large delis don't stock it. So whenever I see it I buy it - I'm hoping to start finding root parsley in more shops really, as it's tastier than parsnip.

Root parsley does look a lot like parsnip (Pastinaca sativa).

Photo: Pastinaca sativa 3. Here's a pic of both, peeled and unpeeled, with a few slices of each shown as well.

Root parsley tastes of parsley, where parsnip tastes of, well, parsnip. There's also a difference in how the leaf scars are arranged at the top of the root: root parsley has leaf scars all over the place, where parsnip keeps its leaf scars tidily inside a ring, much like that of carrots.

Root parsley is usually 30+ cm long, where I remember parsnips to be carrot-length, give or take a few cm.
The root parsley in the pic is rather thin; it's usually the same size as the parsnip shown, that is, perhaps double the diameter of carrots.

What to do with root parsley and parsnip? You can't eat either raw. Or, well, you can, but the taste is nothing to write home about. But they're very tasty if boiled, especially if you mix them with blander-tasting root veggies:

Boiled root veggies à la Henriette
4-6 potatoes
8-10 carrots
3-4 root parsley roots
2-3 parsnips
4-5 onions
water
salt
oil or butter
Bring to a boil, let simmer for half an hour or so. The more water you put in the more stock you get. Save that stock, it's delicious, either hot (if drunk straight away), or cold (if put into the fridge for later use).

Serving ideas:

  • pour off the stock (into mugs, not down the drain) and serve the root veggies with whatever you like (fish, meat, or simply a dash of butter).
  • pour off the stock and mash things up. Again, serve with things you like.
  • don't pour off the stock, just puree everything. Instant root soup.
  • leftovers can be fried for a yummy breakfast. Add an egg or two if the leftovers aren't enough to cover a plate.

I've made enough to freeze, many times, but somehow there's never any left to put in the freezer ...

Variations: if you wish to stay on the root crop side you could add celeriac, or sweet potatoes. If you want to juice things up you could add apples, cucumbers, and/or tomatoes. Cabbage isn't bad, either green or red; and cauliflower is nice, too.

Or just use your imagination, and use whatever is in season.

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