An unusual cold-weather root veg from Turnips
Unusual roots and tops of all varieties have been edging their way on to menus for a while now—a happy consequence of the growing influence of ‘root to fruit’ values. Notable among these is celeriac, a regular restaurant presence in just about every conceivable form, from veloute to ice cream. But now, we’re calling it: parsley root is the new celeriac. You heard it here first.
You may well have already eaten it—possibly in eastern Europe, where it’s much more common, or in the mistaken belief that you’re consuming a parsnip: it looks almost exactly the same to the untrained eye.
“It takes dealing with them every day to learn the difference!” admits Charlie at Turnips, which has great stacks of these winter vegetables at the stall from now into the new year. “But you can tell them apart by their skin—parsley roots have slightly paler, whiter skin than parsnips and more defined ridges.”
While its leaves can be used in much the same way as common curly and flat leaf parsley, this particular variety, which is sometimes known as hamburg parsley, is grown for its root. And according to demonstration chef Hayden Groves, they can be treated like any other root vegetable.
“Just scrub them really, really well with a brush—you don’t need to peel them, there’s a lot of flavour in the skin—or if you prefer that neater approach, use a speed peeler to lightly peel them, and just add them to dishes where you would usually use carrots or celeriac. They have a faint hint of parsley, but they’re more like a cross between carrot and celeriac in flavour. They’re lovely.”
Once you’ve got your little tuber home, Hayden has some tips for storage. “The top part, the greens, will turn quickly once picked, so eat them as freshly as you can. To keep them a little longer, wrap the greens in a damp j-cloth and store in the fridge. Treat the root as you would any other, stored separately”—and you’re set.
Pureed with a little celeriac “to bulk it out”, fritters, deep-fried as chips, slow-cooked in a beef stew, whizzed up in soups, chopped up in gratins, mashed—your imagination is seemingly the only limit. “Be adventurous,” says Hayden.
You can even use them raw, in a slaw-style salad. “Perhaps grate them with some apple or pear, then make a simple vinaigrette with lemon juice and a bit of salt. It’s much more vibrant than old-fashioned creamy coleslaws,” he suggests. “Top with loads of chopped leaves to make the most of the whole vegetable, and maybe some berries. It’s a delicious autumnal salad.”