Try this winter root vegetable as a sweet, starchy alternative to potatoes. Parsnips resemble a cone-shaped, ivory-coloured carrot, but their aroma is somewhat like celery and involves a sweet, nutty flavour. In fact this vegetable has more natural sugars than carrots, and the content increases after a light frost. With all these similarities, it’s understandable that it is a relative of the carrot, celeriac, and parsley root vegetables.
Parsnips are easily available but are at their peak from October through April. The off-season selection may have a slightly woody texture.
When choosing parsnips, look for the smaller and mid-sized roots, as the very large ones can be a bit woody and tougher in texture. Check to ensure they are firm with a uniform creamy beige skin. Avoid any that seem soft or limp, have rootlets sprouting from them, cracked, pitted, shriveled, or discoloured signs. Older, larger parsnips can be aggressive in taste.
Rinse thoroughly and scrub or peel skins just before using, as you would a carrot. Leave whole, slice, dice, cut into sticks or shred. However:
- If steaming, then the skins will slip off easily after cooking.
- If pureeing parsnips, then retain the skins. Simply trim tops and root ends.
- Large, older parsnips require more peeling and have a woody core. In fact, it is common for a core to grow at the top of the root that becomes fibrous and should be removed before cooking.
- If roasting: To improve the consistency and texture, parboil them for 3 to 4 minutes before roasting. Not only will this shorten the roasting time but it also will improve the preparation results for out of season parsnips.
This creamy yellow, long root vegetable can be boiled, steamed, braised, roasted, sautéed, fried, microwave, stir-fried, glazed, creamed, and used as an ingredient for soups and stews.
Quick & Easy Serving Ideas
- Jams and jellies have been made out of parsnips for centuries in England
- Serve raw as an appetizer
- Shred the tender new ones into salads and eat them raw
- Add to soups, stews or stock or cut in chunks for adding sweetness, and texture or creamed them first
- Simmer chunks of parsnips, then puree and add your favorite broth for a simple soup
- Roast at 425 for 40 minutes until done. Northern England tends to feature roast parsnips and potatoes in a traditional Sunday roast
- Steam parsnips or boil them and then mash them like a potato. Try topping with buttered breadcrumbs
- Steam parsnips and serve with your favorite entrée
- Roast parsnips with other root vegetables in a 400°F oven with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs. Serve as side dish
- Try baking them in the oven in a covered dish. They’ll steam and caramelize to a luscious sweetness
- Use tender newly harvested parsnips, braised in a little butter and generously sprinkled with fresh parsley and a bit of parmesan
- Glazed parsnips partner well with roasted lamb, beef, and game
- Make excellent ‘chips’
Substituted for: carrots, sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes in most recipes. For instance, substitute carrots with parsnips in cake and call it ‘white carrot cake’.
Complimentary Seasonings Sweeteners such as apple cider, brown sugar, or maple syrup can be used as baking ingredients or as flavourings after cooking to add to the taste. In addition, various vinegars such as balsamic or wine vinegars can provide an interesting balance for enjoying sweet and sour flavours together.
Total Fat: 0.4g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (22.6mg), and Folate (88.8mcg)
*Good source of: Potassium (498mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.