Well, last night, after a hard day’s work. I had the priviledge of trying something new for dinner. I know that’s something we NEVER do at our house. After all we are very habitual, repetative eaters, NOT! (Well. In truth, Todd will probably tell you that I am… Once I get a taste of something that I like I want it, no…. CRAVE it meal after meal after meal until maybe about a couple of weeks in, I JUST CAN’T STAND THE SIGHT/SMELL/TASTE of it…. But that’s another blog post completely!!!).
On a recent farmer’s market trip I found something new I wanted to try. But I left it behind, because…. well… I don’t want to throw Todd under the bus here, (like I do every other day of my life…. That man is a poor long suffering saint….. who am I kidding… he has his flaws!!! LOL!!), but let’s just say there was something about “the price” and then the “but when will we cook it? I have dinners all planned for the next few days…” And we can’t overlook the “but you don’t even know what it’s flavour profile is!” arguement. Of course, THAT was precisely THE reason I wanted it…. But in the interest of avoiding marital discord, I simply walked away from it.
It was only a few days later though, as we were shopping at our local grocery store, that that exact same item caught my eye…. There was something about those lush green stems, long and straight like celery, but darker green and much smaller in diameter, with leafy tops, and the sexiest off white roots extending below them that made me look twice. You know what I’m talking about…. When that cute thing walks past, and, in your peripheral vision, catches your attention. You try not to be obvious, I mean no one wants to see you swivelling your head all about to try and get a look. But. Still, you also can’t quite tear yourself away, and you keep trying to steal a glance or two without getting caught (by them OR your significant other). Yeah. it was kinda like that. Well, exactly like that really.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t long before I had walked up to that particular section, and ruffled my fingers through those crisp green leaves, stroking those long off white roots hesitantly with my finger tips…. wondering just how I could get them in my shopping cart without drawing Todd’s attention. I discovered a long time ago that Todd is much less likely to refuse me an item if he only discovers it at the last minute, as it gets loaded on the conveyor belt at the cash register. (Is it wrong of me to know how to “work” him like that? Please say no….. Please?). All it took was a split second in time, when Todd got distracted by some heirloom tomatoes (a love affair that I gladly allow him to indulge, after all I am not a jealous guy…) and that wonderful bunch of PARSLEY ROOT was in my cart!!! Mission accomplished!!!!
After a few days of sitting at home, last night was the night. While I struggled to survive my long arduous day at work (read: one of the slowest days at work ever…..) Todd took that parsley root, cleaned it, rubbed it with a little oil, and oven roasted it to perfection. I mean he obviously did a bit more than that to make a meal… He also roasted some parsnip, reduced some beef broth with some shallots and garlic to make a wonderful sauce/au jus/gravy… call it what you will, I just called it delicious (and drank what I didn’t pour on my meal from the gravy boat like it was the elixir of life!!!!!). Of course, the left over beef brisket from the previous night’s dinner made an appearance too, and with that dinner was complete!!
At first I wasn’t aware of the surprise that awaited me. After all, once you’ve removed the tops, parsley root looks entirely like parsnip, and also very similar to pale yellow/white heirloom carrots or even long white radish (the texture of the skin is different from the carrots or radish, but at a glance one could be forgiven for mistaking them…). As I was taking an “unapproved” photo (read: Todd was not happy that I was photographing a plate that he did not think was restaurant quality) of the rustic plate with it’s root pointing skyward, Todd informed me that they were pointed that way to be able to differentiate the parsley root from the parsnip. That of course is when my feeble memory began to work, I remembered that I had been wanting to try those for days (but yet forgotten that I had purchased them and housed them deep in the depths of the crisper drawer….. outta sight, outta mind…like always!).
I’m sure that you are wondering by now. Well? Was it worth it? Should I make the fuss of finding and buying them? Just how different are they? So let me tell you. If you are the the type of person who thinks that beef tenderloin tastes the same as a strip loin steak (‘cuz I mean, beef is beef right?) or that chicken and turkey have the same taste, well….. then maybe you won’t see a difference. But. If you enjoy the subtle nuances between different wines, or think that Shitake mushrooms are much more woodsy and flavourful then say a white button mushroom, then you will understand my take on how the Parsnip vs. Parsley Root battle went down!!!
First and foremost, let’s start by saying that Todd took the time to oven roast these bad
boys. That is one of my favourite way to do it… not steamed or boiled, soaking up the flavour of the things around it. The oven roasting seems to bring out the sweet flavours in most vegetables, or so I have found. I say this because, as a child I could not stand parsnip or turnip at all, they were always bitter, they were always sharp. They were ALWAYS JUST UNENJOYABLE (they were NEVER oven roasted). Now however, I have changed my mind. Completely. I love me some parsnip. Roast that stuff in the oven, I’ll take that. Then if you like puree it down and serve it to me….. YUM!! Take that puree and turn it into soup…. HEAVENLY!!! Most people would say that parsnip has a mild celery like fragrance and a sweet, nutty flavour. If you leave them in the ground until late autumn and let them experience a hard frost it will initiate a conversion of the starches to sugars, giving a nice sweet flavour. Some gardeners/farmers have been known to leave their parsnips unharvested until spring, believing that wintering them in the ground and harvesting in the spring makes them the sweetest. Oven roasting enhances this sweetness, and produces a flavour that I could never have imagined being served as a child, (sorry mom…. I just couldn’t stand them!).
Parsley root on the other hand, to me seems to have a more earthy, less sweet but yet robust flavour. Parsnip may be sweet, parsley root however is not as much. People may say they find aromatic notes of celeriac, parsley, and carrot in parsley root. I found parsley root to be less sweet than parsnip, maybe a little more delicate? It is obviously more herbal, and my mouth might even say there was a little taste of fresh cut grass (but in a pleasant way really….. trust me…. there CAN be a pleasant “cut grass” flavour….. I know, I find that hard to even say, but parsley root has proven to me that it IS true!).
So. End result? I love both. The sweetness of a well roasted parsnip is stunning. Then again if sweet is not your goal? The herbacious, earthy, woodsy, delicious parsley root might just be your thing. Give it a try!! Clean well, rub with a little oil, oven roast on a cookie sheet at 365 degrees for aprox 30-50 minutes depending on their thickness (until fork tender) and just enjoy!!! Now. Stick a fork in me….I’m DONE!!!
Thanks for reading.