Pining for Parsnips

The parsnip is a root vegetable that looks like a pale carrot. Much like carrots, you can store parsnips with the leafy tops removed in a breathable plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 weeks. Remember that when you get vegetables directly from a farmer, they will not have added chemicals or preservatives applied so they may last longer than those you buy in the store, or alternatively they may need to be used sooner. Just check on how they are keeping – soft mushy spots indicate that they are no longer good.

Parsnips are the sweetest of the root vegetables and spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger compliment them nicely. Parsnips provide a source of dietary vitamin C, folate, potassium and fibre. Vitamin C helps keep teeth and gums healthy in addition to helping wounds heal faster. Folate is important for the growth of new cells, and potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Fibre can help lower cholesterol, decrease constipation and keep you feeling full; most of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet and eating parsnips can help!

Parsnips are generally eaten cooked – but be sure not to overcook them (the texture is most appealing and nutrients are preserved when they are cooked just until tender). They can be baked (350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes), boiled (for 5 to 15 minutes), microwaved (cut in chunks and place in microwave safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water), or steamed (5 to 30 minutes – shorter times for smaller pieces, longer for whole parsnips). Serve them as a side dish, puree into soups, cut in chunks for stews, or add them to casseroles!

Here a few recipes to try:

PARSNIP AND CARROT SOUP
Serves 4

4 Tbsp butter, softened
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
450g (15oz) carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 level Tbsp freshly grated root ginger
1 level tsp finely grated orange rind
600ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
125ml (4 fl oz) single cream (to reduce the fat in this recipe use whole or 2% milk instead)
salt and ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh coriander, to garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the carrots and parsnips. Cover the pan until the vegetables have softened a little. Stir in the ginger, orange rind and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the rinsed-out saucepan, stir in the cream (or milk), and season well with salt and pepper. Warm through gently over a low heat.

Remove from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle pepper over and garnish your parsnip soup with a sprig of coriander.

MAPLE PARSNIP SOUP

2 Tbsp butter (or part vegetable oil)
1 pound (500 g) chopped parsnips
2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth (substitute or add in a 1/4 cup of white wine, cooking sherry, or a cup of apple juice if you like)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup homogenized milk (options: cream tastes AMAZING in this soup if you want to splurge, and I’m sure almond milk would taste great if you wanted a non-dairy option)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (or more for spicier taste)
salt to taste

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add parsnips, onions and garlic, and sauté until onions are translucent but not brown. Add broth and nutmeg, and bring to a simmer. Cook until parsnips are soft (40 minutes or so). Add milk, and remove from heat.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until velvety smooth. Stir in maple syrup and mustard, salt to taste. To serve, sprinkle a little fresh thyme on top, or some shaved toasted almonds.

HONEY-GLAZED ROASTED CARROTS AND PARSNIPS
From epicurious.com

2 lbs carrots (1 to 1 1/2″ diameter), peeled, halved lengthwise
2 lbs parsnips (1 to 1 1/2″ diameter), peeled, halved lengthwise
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil. Divide carrots and parsnips between prepared sheets. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over vegetables on each sheet; toss to coat.

Roast vegetables 10 minutes; stir. Roast vegetables 10 minutes longer, stir, and reverse sheets. Continue roasting until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, about 15 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Tent with foil and let stand at room temperature. Warm uncovered in 350°F oven 10 minutes.)

Melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in honey and vinegar. Drizzle honey glaze over vegetables and serve.

Updated from posts originally published in 2011 and 2012

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