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I cooked parsnips for the first time this week (glad I did - delicious). When the produce clerk pointed them out, I asked if he had baby parsnips instead (as the recipe called for them).

He pointed out parsley root, which looked very similar. I did a search while in the store (and got in many shoppers' way), but could not find whether they were the same thing definitively.

A follow up question would be, if they aren't in fact the same thing, had I chosen to make this dish (roast veggies and chicken), how would the taste have differed for the parsley roots?

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Parsley root is not the same as parsnip. It tastes more like parsley, which is not really a surprise. Parsley roots don't get as sweet and delicious when you roast them as parsnips do, in my opinion - I get plenty of both from my Community Supported Agriculture box and buy a lot of parsnips as well.

If you can't find parsnips you could use parsley root as a substitute rather than going without. On the matter of "baby" parsnips -- I just cut the large ones into more pieces. The centre of the largest ones are woody sometimes, but unless it's 4" or more across (which I have seen) you have nothing to worry about.

  • beat me to it @Kate Gregory! – moscafj Feb 27 '18 at 18:31
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No, they are not the same.

Parsnips are Pastinaca sativa, parsley roots are roots of Petroselinum crispum.

They are interchangeable only to a degree:
Parsnips are a lot milder, with a sweet note and a lot more tender. Parsley is sometimes slightly sharp, can be more fibrous, especially the core, and takes longer to cook.

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