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Produce Spotlight: Parsnips

Everything You Need to Know About Parsnips

Parsnips are white root vegetables that look very much like a cream-coloured carrot. They have a wonderful light, spicy-sweet flavour that has a hint of nuttiness while being slightly earthy tasting. They are a perfect addition to a soup or stew or can be roasted until caramelized as a hearty side dish.

How to Select and Store Parsnips

Choose parsnips that are small to medium sized, as the larger ones tend to have a woody core that needs to be removed before cooking. You want to look for parsnips that are pale, firm, smooth, and well-shaped – avoid those that are limp, shriveled, browned, blemished and/or sport soft spots.

To keep your parsnips fresh and crisp, store them in a bag in the crisper, just like you would carrots. They will keep there for up to three weeks.

How to Prepare Parsnips

Scrub well and peel with a vegetable peeler. If you happen to have large parsnips, cut out the woody stems and discard. Also, trim and discard both ends. When preparing, you can either leave them whole, dice, slice, or grate depending on what you’d like to do with them.

If you choose to boil, broil, steam, purée, or roast parsnips, keep in mind that you can use them just as you would use a carrot.

Important to Note: 1 pound = 4 medium parsnips or 2 cups peeled and chopped.

Parsnip Tips

  • Savor the nutrients and don’t bother peeling young, small parsnips. Just gently scrub them to remove any dirt and serve them whole.

  • When dealing with older parsnips, peel very thinly to avoid waste. Make a judgment call on whether the central core is too fibrous and tough to be cooked.

  • Overcooking parsnips will turn them mushy, so just cook them until tender unless you are puréeing them.

  • Cut your parsnips into small pieces and they can easily be sautéed alongside your favorite veggies. Alternatively, roast them to add another dimension of caramelized flavor.

  • Like a potato, parsnips will brown after they’ve been cut, peeled, and exposed to air for too long. To prepare parsnips ahead of time, peel them and place in water or sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from browning.

  • Small, younger parsnips are more tender and can be peeled or grated to add to a salad.

  • Carrots and parsnips are interchangeable in most recipes.

Parsnips Go Well With

Sweet: maple syrup and brown sugar Spices: nutmeg, ginger, garlic, and pepper Herbs: parsley, sage, and thyme Fruits & Vegetables: carrots, apples, potatoes, carrots, pears, spinach Savory: pork, chicken

Parsnip Serving Ideas

  • Add boiled parsnips to your mashed potatoes for a subtly sweet flavor and more fiber.

  • Roasted parsnips taste wonderful over a warm quinoa salad. Bring out their nutty flavor by adding some walnuts or pecans as well.

  • Parsnips and apples are such a classic flavor match: try using it in soups, pies, or even breads.

  • You can grate small, young parsnips for salad to enjoy them raw. Try our Carrot, Parsnip, Apple Salad.

  • Add some crunch to soups or softer foods: use a vegetable peeler to shave off ribbons of parsnip and flash-fry them in oil until crisp. Remove from oil and let drain on some paper tower. They’ll naturally add more movement and texture to your dish.

  • Enjoy parsnips roasted are a delicious side dish and then use any leftovers in soup.

  • Try making healthy vegetable chips with them.

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