In Season: Parsnips

by in In Season, March 24, 2009

Every time I buy parsnips at my local market, the checkout person asks, “What’s that?” Parsnips are underappreciated and foreign to some, but they’re a flavorful option for soups, stews and side dishes.

What Are Parsnips?
Europeans brought this white, carrot lookalike to the U.S. in the 1600s. It quickly became known as a winter veggie because the first frost converts its starch to sugar, giving it a sweet and nutty flavor. A dependable root vegetable, parsnips are available in different parts of the country from October through May.

Nutrition Info
A cup of raw parsnips has 100 calories and 7 grams of fiber. They are high in the antioxidant vitamin C and are an excellent source of folate (great for the blood) and vitamin K (needed for blood clotting and boosting bone health).

Prepping Parsnips
Parsnips are typically cooked before eaten. Scrape or peel them and then boil, steam or microwave. Boil large pieces for 10 minutes or until tender. Strips should cook for 7 to 9 minutes. Steam pieces for 15 to 20 minutes covered or strips for 8 to 10 minutes. You can also microwave pieces with a few tablespoons of water — just cover and cook them for 5 to 6 minutes; then let them stand for a couple minutes.

Getting Creative with Parsnips
Raw parsnips have a sweet and crunchy flavor. Grate or cut them into matchsticks (a.k.a. julienne) and add to salads or serve with dip.

I always cook my chicken stock with parsnips and boy, do they give off an amazing aroma! You can also mash them like potatoes (Dana’s favorite!) or cook them with onions and carrots. You can even make a stew or sauté them as a side dish.

Shopping Tip:
Look for medium-sized parsnips that are firm and smooth. Avoid shriveled, limp or spotted ones. Store for up to 4 weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

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Comments (29)

  1. Lily says:

    Thanks for the parsnip recipes! I had my wisdom teeth out on Monday and am recovering with totally pureed foods. I love these vegetables and can’t wait to cook them when I move on to partially solid, mushy foods. It’s tough being an invalid :(

  2. Erin says:

    A great way to prep parsnips is to peel and slice long way, microwave for about 7 min. til soft, then I brown them on the griddle, the nutty taste is wonderful & they remind my children of french fries….healthy style.

  3. Lori Freese says:

    I always wondered what parsnips taste like.
    They sound like they are good. I am willing to give them a try.

  4. Maria cartwright says:

    Parsnip Chips — Slice parsnips thin; then rub the slices with olive oil and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake at around 350 degrees. Take them out when they are crispy.

  5. Mabel says:

    I was raised on root vegie’s don’t think there is one I don’t like.I like the Raw or Cooked. Thank you for the Recipe’s Mabel

  6. Annie says:

    My favorite way to eat parsnips at the moment is roasting them in the oven alongside beets, turnips and sweet potatoes. Just chop everything up somewhat evenly, toss with a little EVOO, salt, pepper and roast at 450 for 15 minutes or so. Soooo delish!

  7. Cindy says:

    I like putting parsnips in with my vegetables when I make pot roast. They add a sweet savory taste to the vegetables.

  8. Susan says:

    While pregnant with my third child, I craved them. Slice lengthwise thinly, and saute in butter, they are yummy!

  9. these recipes are the ones that anyone can try. i love parsnips with chicken soup and orange juice. however, i like them as salad as well.

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