One of our favorite cold-weather root vegetables is parsnip. Cultivated in Europe since ancient times and a relative of the carrot, the ivory-colored, fibrous parsnip offers sweet, nutty flavor and celery-like fragrance. It can be harvested through the end of November, and if you wait until after the first frost of the year, you’ll find that they are delightfully sweeter, because cold temperatures turn the parsnip’s starch into sugar.
Because parsnips are so fibrous, they’re generally cooked before eating. Parsnips are the sweetest of all the root vegetables and easy to prepare. They can be cut up or left whole then baked, cut up or left whole then boiled and mashed with butter and cream, cut into big chunks then microwaved, or peeled, sliced and steamed like carrots. Vitamin C-rich parsnips make a great addition to roasts, soups and stews. Flavors that complement this root vegetable include: allspice, brown sugar, chives, cinnamon, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg, rosemary, and sage, to name a few.
Here is a mashed parsnips recipe, perfect for pairing with roasted meats.
- 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Place parsnips in a large saucepan then cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat then simmer for about 12 minutes or until parsnips are very tender. Drain parsnips then place in a food processor. Add butter nutmeg, cream, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; Process ingredients until smooth. SERVES 4