It’s really not a parsnip, I promise.
What is it? Not to state the obvious, but parsley root is the oft-ignored white root of those verdant parsley leaves we’ve grown so used to using. Compare root to leaves and you’ll get some of the same similarities and contrasts as you will with other multi-part roots: The greens are bright and grassy with sharp flavor, while the roots are mellow, earthy and more rounded.
What do I do with it? Roots tend to be the deeper echo of their delicate, sunlit tops, perfectly suited to cooler months and heartier dishes; parsley is no exception. If you’ve cooked with celeriac, think of parsley root in much the same way: too pungent on its own, but ideal for effortlessly adding some nuanced flavor into even the most basic dishes. I like to add cubes into pot roast vegetables or beef stews to lift the flavor a bit – the leaves wilt, but the roots infuse otherwise heavy dishes with mellow parsley flavor and blend right in. Slice it into a classic gratin with other root vegetables, or throw a few on a sheet pan with whole-roasted carrots and then glaze with honey or maple syrup to finish.
If you're looking to upgrade your holiday meals this year, this recipe is an incredibly simple way to elevate mashed potatoes with flavors everyone will love; even the capers slide in virtually undetected by picky eaters and can easily be omitted as a garnish. If capers aren’t your thing, consider substituting finely chopped Kalamata olives for that welcome hint of brine.