Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Parsley Root

by Andrea Yoder

Parsley Root
Parsley root is an interesting vegetable that we rarely have the opportunity to include in CSA boxes.  We were introduced to parsley root years ago upon request of Chef Odessa Piper who recognized the subtle, yet striking, role parsley root can play in fall and winter meals.  While used more widely throughout Europe, it is not as well-known in the US.  Parsley root is the root of the parsley plant.  While both of these crops have similar plants, there are varieties grown specifically for the root versus the herb.  Parsley root is a challenging crop to grow with a limited market for selling, thus we only plant it every couple of years.  In order to get a nice, straight root, parsley root must be direct-seeded versus herb parsley which is started in the greenhouse as a transplant.  Parsley root seed is very hard to germinate & has a long growing season.  These two factors are what make this crop hard to manage and require an investment in time to cultivate and hand weed several times throughout the season.

Just harvested parsley root, still with green tops
While parsley root resembles parsnips, they are very different in flavor.  Parsley root has a mild parsley flavor and provides a sweet, subtle background flavor to dishes prepared with it.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  In its raw form, you can grate it on top of a greens salad, or make it the center ingredient in a salad.  Combine shredded parsley root with carrots, diced shallots and toss with fresh parsley and a lemon vinaigrette.  Parsley root pairs well with other root vegetables and makes a delicious addition to soups and root mashes along with potatoes, celeriac, parsnips, etc.  If you enjoy making your own homemade stock, I encourage you to consider investing all of your parsley root into a pot of stock this week.  Chicken stock in particular is elevated to the next level with the addition of parsley root along with carrots, celery and onions—all included in this week’s box!  We have often heard that parsley root is the secret ingredient in Grandma’s chicken soup…which starts with a good stock.

Savor and appreciate this little taste of something special.  It will be a few years before we grow it again!

Red Lentils with Winter Squash & Greens

Servings:  4
1 cup red lentils
3 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional, but highly recommended)
2 Tbsp fresh lemongrass bulb, minced
1 handful fresh curry leaves (optional—the recipe is great even without them)
1 fresh red chili (such as a guajillo or red fresno pepper), sliced thinly (may substitute a pinch or two of dried pepper flakes)
5-6 cups water
1 cup diced kabocha or butternut squash
1 bunch mustard greens OR 4 cups raw spinach
Fresh lime & Cilantro, to garnish
Cooked Basmati Rice or Potatoes 

  1. Rinse the lentils well using a mesh strainer.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is shimmering, add the onions & garlic. Saut√© for about 5 minutes, then add the lentils, ginger, turmeric, salt, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, lemongrass, curry leaves (if using), and the red chili.  Stir to combine, then add 3-4 cups of water, or enough water to bring the level of liquid over the lentils by about ½-1 inch.
  3. Cover and bring to a simmer.  Once the lentils are simmering, remove the cover and add the squash.  Add an additional 1-2 cups of water and continue to simmer until the squash is tender, the lentils are soft, and the mixture looks smoother. 
  4. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the greens.  If you are using mustard greens, wash the leaves and then tear or cut into bite sized pieces before adding them to the lentils.  Simmer for just a few minutes more until all the greens have wilted into the lentils.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve alongside cooked basmati rice or boiled potatoes. Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lime and chopped cilantro.  
Beautiful Red Mustard Greens

I adapted this recipe from one originally written by McKel Hill for her blog—  The mustard greens are delicious in this recipe which is quite easy to prepare.-Chef Andrea

Potato & Parsley Soup with Parsley Root

Serves 4 to 6
1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled
2 medium parsley roots, scrubbed
1 ½ Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups chopped parsley
1 ½ tsp sea salt
6 cups water or vegetable stock
⅓ cup cream, or additional water
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Quarter the potatoes lengthwise and thinly slice.  Grate the parsley roots. 
  2. Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the potatoes, parsley roots, onions and bay leaves.  Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Raise the heat, add the wine, and let it reduce until syrupy. 
  3. Add 1 ½ cups of the parsley, the salt and the water; bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes have broken apart, about 30 minutes.  
  4. Stir in the cream and remaining ½ cup parsley and heat through.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.  Remove the bay leaves and serve.

Recipe borrowed from Deborah Madison’s cookbook, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

1 comment:

NotThatKindOfFarmer said...

Very nice article on vegetable.
Learned a lot of things,Thanks for sharing this information with us.