In Praise of Parsnips

In Praise of Parsnips

How I got along for decades without knowing parsnips…well, it just boggles the mind.  I asked my mom, and she hardly knew parsnips, either, though she’s from New England and we grew plenty of veggies when I was growing up in South Carolina. Yet here I am, a grown woman, and I’ve kind of fallen for this humble-looking veggie. I seek them out.

Give me a tray of roasted veggies—sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, parnsips. I’ll choose the parsnips. Even try to hog an extra few by the machinations of my spoon. Parsnips are sweet, nutty, never with that old carrot flavor. They put carrots to shame if roasted.

So, I’m starting the campaign here and now. If other folks don’t start eating them, the parsnip will just languish. Our local grocers and farmers won’t keep farming and supplying them. Already, it’s kind of specialty, side-item, for which they get fewer sales. Jack at Hovenkamp’s Produce puzzles over the underrated parsnip, too.

Yup, once you meet a good parsnip, it kinda grows on you. I’ve noticed that Top Chef and other gourmet shows spring mashed parsnip on a lot of diners, with good results. But mashing…I have not tried it. I advocate roasted.

It’s simple. Cut parsnips in small pieces, say 1/2 inch cubes or so. Toss in a bit of oil and salt. Put in a 425 oven for 40 minutes or so. Check after 25 minutes because sometimes they go a bit faster. They should be just fork-tender, and with a little bit of browning. Scrumptious.

Mix diced onions, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, apples, and the like with the parsnips, if you like. Just remember that If I’m visiting your parsnip to other veggie ratio will mysteriously shift as I fish them out of the pan.

Oh, and yes ,they are healthy. Low in calories. contain all kinds of B vitamins, calcium, fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin C, and so on.

You can also eat them raw, on salads. I haven’t tried them yet. Give me time. I will!

Here are some parsnip resources for curious folks:

Parsnip pancakes. Gotta try these!

Growing parsnips

There also seems to be a band called the “Parsnip Revolt.”

Can’t vouch for them.

I did manage a page for parsnips in my upcoming children’s book, Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant. (June, 2011, BLB/Simon&Schuster). But really, I was tempted to give them the whole book. Party with Parsnips! Pro-Parsnip! Even saying their name is fun. You know how I love lively words!

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