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Nov 3, 2007 01:00 PM

Help! Difference in taste between Parsnips & Turnips

For Thanksgiving I want to make a gratin with shaved truffles. I know I need to use a mild vegetable and cheese so as not to overwhelm the yummy truffles, but I have very little experience with celery root, turnips, and parsnips. Any help in describing flavor profiles and baking textures would be of great help. Cheese suggestions are also welcome!!

Thanks guys!

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  1. Parsnips would be lovely. They have a nice sweetness to them, and lack the peppery bite of turnips and the tendency to get a little watery when cooked like celeriac. I love all of these root vegetables, and frequently cut them up and roast them together, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

    1. I actually would just use potatoes, and maybe some fontina.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        Mashed potatoes are a staple in my family, if I ever made something to replace/compete with them I would be banished from the kitchen! But thanks for the suggestion.

        In regards to the parsnip and turnips, are turnips are more savory root vegetable? And which of the three contains the least water content? I hadn't even thought of the moisture issue!

      2. Turnips have a very distict taste that may not be the best partner with truffles. Seems to me you want a blander background pallette for the truffles. Parsnips are milder and sweeter.

        I also agree with MMRuth that potatoes would work, as well. Fontina would be a nice choice of cheese, too. A young asiago might work too.

        6 Replies
        1. re: C. Hamster

          I don't think I've ever had a turnip - based on your description, I think the parsnips would be a good choice.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Never had a turnip?!? Oh my, you're missing something, especially rutabagas mashed with butter, salt and lots of pepper. Then, there's the old Joy of Cooking's Turnip Souffle. Roasted turnips get all sweet and crispy. Turnips cut up in winter stews add delicious flavor. Little baby spring turnips, steamed and served on a bed of their stir-fried greens makes a lovely light lunch. Old, over-cooked turnips are nasty, but I suspect you have plenty of cookbooks with great recipes for these veggies. Please give them a try, MM.

            1. re: pikawicca

              Thanks! I will. I like most vegetables, but there are some I've not tried - though I'm working on it - most recently beets, which I like!

              1. re: MMRuth

                I love beets, too, but my family has forbidden me to cook them ever again! Not only do they not like the taste, they hate the smell. I eat them at restaurants whenever I find them. Had a great beet/beef soup at a local soup tasting today. Post when you try some turnips.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  My husband said that he disliked beets, but when I started roasting them, and serving them as part of Suzanne Goin's recipes (he now calls her "my gal" after the Wells debacle), he likes them.

              2. re: pikawicca

                I once had some friends over for a pot roast dinner, accompanied by parsleyed new potatoes and onions, carrots, and turnips that had been cooked in with the roast. Before dinner I asked them how they felt about turnips. Most said, "Yuck, I hate them!"

                During dinner they asked me what that delicious white stuff in the vegetable dish was. Heh!

          2. So I found a Patricia Wells recipe with turnips. It sounds wonderful, but I'm worried that the flavor of the turnips might be too strong?

            2 Replies
            1. re: rachel12

              Don't buy large or wrinkled ones. Smallest and freshest is best. This is a vegetable that's best fresh from a farmers' market.

              1. re: rachel12

                Parsnips taste (in my opinion) like sweeter, spicier, roasted carrots, and turnips are similar to radishes, peppery and a little bitter.

              2. Ok, so here's the thing. I made a Paleo soup yesterday that called for the use of parsnips. I knew how they looked but had never eaten them as far as I knew. I googled which is how I eneded up here because I wanted to know what to expect and maybe whether to tweak the recipe if I did not think the taste/texture was a good idea.

                I tasted the parsnips raw first and found they taste a lot like carrots. Blindfolded, I would not have known the difference.

                In a soup, they cook more to the texture of turnips or rutabagas but taste nothing like them. The texture is almost like potatoes They don't get waterlogged and somewhat bitter like turnuip roots can get, but if I make this recipe again, I'd defintely add them closer to the end.

                I think parsnips taste like carrots when raw, overcooked (my fault) potatoes when cooked but nothing like turnip roots.