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Parsley Root: The Herb's Dirty Little Secret

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Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: Parlsey root is more well-known in Central Europe than it is in the U.S., but not for long -- it deserves an introduction into your kitchen.

Parsley Root, from Food52

We know what you’re wondering, and yes, parsley root is exactly what it sounds like: the root of the herb parsley. This is a variety grown for its large taproot though, rather than its leaves (although its leaves are edible too). It belongs to the carrot family, along with fennel, celery, cilantro, and the very similar-looking parsnips. Confused about what you're looking at? The parsley-like leaves should give it away, but if not, take a bite. Elizabeth Schneider breaks it down: "Parsnip is sweet; parsley root is not -- its flavor contains elements of celeriac, parsley, and carrot but it is more aggresive and aromatic."

Selection and Storage
Parsley root’s season is just beginning, so if you aren’t quite ready for autumnal vegetables, you'll still be able to find them through the spring. Look for firm, uniformly-sized roots that are a pale beige. The greens are best eaten within a couple of days, but the roots will store well for a week or two -- treat them just like carrots. Cut off (1) the greens and store the roots and greens separately in plastic bags or reusable containers. When you’re ready to use the roots, they’ll need a good scrub to get the dirt off, but they don’t need to be peeled -- unless you just really like your peeler.

More: Not sure where the nearest farmers market is? Find one on Real Time Farms. 

How to Prep and Store Parsley Root, from Food52

How to Use
Try parsley root baked in a gratin, pan-fried in fritters, or deep-fried as chips. It pairs well with other roots and tubers too, so try them roasted, mashed, or puréed together. Add parsley root to soups and stews (this is an especially good choice for any roots that have started to get a bit flabby). Parsley root can also be substituted in recipes calling for celeriac, carrots, parsnips, and turnips. It is almost always eaten cooked, but it can be eaten raw too: add it, sliced, to a crudité platter, a coleslaw, or a salad, like Diane Morgan’s salad of parsley root, apple, and watercress found in Roots. Ready to introduce parsley root into your dinner line-up? We've got you covered for the week:

Friday: Parsley Root and Lady Apple Soup 
Saturday: Parsley Root Fries with Roasted Tomato Ketchup 
Sunday: Chicken Fricassee with Parsley Roots and Chanterelle Mushrooms 
Monday: Couscous Tabbouleh with Parsley Root and Preserved Lemon 
Tuesday: Jerry Traunfeld’s Root Ribbons with Sage 
Wednesday: Brussels Sprouts with Parsley Roots 
Thursday: Chicken with Parsley Root, Parsley Cream, and Fresh Hazelnuts 

Photos by James Ransom 

Tags: Sustainability, Ingredients, Down and Dirty, Diagrams