Petersilienwurzel is the German word for parsley root or Hamburg root. Wurzelpetersilie is German for "root parsley," which is the same thing. It is a subspecies of parsley (Petroselinum crispum ssp. tuberosum) which has been bred to produce large roots shaped like a carrot and colored like a parsnip.
You do not often see it in the American kitchen and it is subsequently not found in all grocery stores.
It has a sweet taste, milder than the leaves which are more herbal, and is often used in soups, stews, mirepoix and side dishes in Germany and Holland.
Differences Between Parsley root and Parsnip
Both species are from the carrot family (Apiaceae) along with anise, fennel, cumin and caraway, and are often used interchangeably. But they are not one and the same.
Parsley root is less pungent than parsnip and has a faint parsley taste.
Parsnip is sweet when baked or cooked, but often retains a sharp aftertaste that parsley root does not have.
Still, try using parsnip in recipes calling for parsley root, with the addition of fresh parsley in a bouquet garni (herbs which are added whole during cooking, then removed before serving).
Can't Find It? Grow It!
Because you cannot often buy it in North America, you might want to try your hand at planting parsnips in your garden (find seeds here). Both parsley and parsnip take at least 14 days to germinate and must be kept moist the entire time.
One tip I was given was to wet the ground and a flat piece of wood. Place the wood over the plantings and keep it wet until germination. Do not plant very deep. A sprinkling of dirt over the seeds is all they need.
The plants stay in the ground until fall. Usually, they need about 100 days to mature, but can then be stored like carrots.
How to Cook with Parsley Root
Parsley root can be boiled and mashed with butter for a delicate and delicious side dish, or used in Suppengruen or mirepoix as a base for sauces and stews. They can be baked in the oven with other root vegetables. The greens can also be used but might be tougher than the leaves grown specifically for eating.
Also Known As: parsley root, Hamburg root, Fakir parsley root, Wurzelpetersilie,
Recipes Using Parsley Root
German Spicy Carrot Salad Recipe
Hungarian Vegetable Soup Recipe (Parve)