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Seasonal Produce: Parsnips

It’s no accident that parsnips resemble ivory-colored carrots. This versatile, though little used, root vegetable is botanically related to carrots. Parsnips have a slightly sweet nutty flavor and a tough starchy texture that softens when cooked. They are usually harvested after the first frost since the cold converts their starch to sugar resulting in a sweeter taste. Parsnips are available almost year-round with peak supplies in fall and winter. They can be prepared in the same ways as carrots and potatoes—roasted, steamed, boiled, baked, mashed and puréed—so give parsnips a place in some of your cold-weather meals.

Purchasing

  • Select firm small- to medium-size parsnips since large ones are often tough and stringy with a woody core that must be removed.
  • Avoid limp, shriveled or blemished parsnips that have moist spots or many tiny hairlike roots.
  • Refrigerate unwashed parsnips in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.

Preparing

  • Trim both ends, peel and rinse with water. If the parsnips are large, slice them lengthwise in half and remove any tough fibrous cores.
  • Chop, slice, cube or julienne parsnips to ensure even cooking.
  • Cook immediately after peeling and cutting, or place in a bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring.
  • Parsnips have a tendency to become mushy when overcooked and are best when just slightly tender. Add them to long-simmering dishes, such as soups and stews, during the last 10 to 15 minutes of the cooking time.

Nutrition

  • Excellent of vitamin C. Good source of dietary fiber.
  • Low in sodium.

Serving

  • Team up parsnips with other root vegetables. When oven-roasting carrots, potatoes and onions, add parsnips to the pan for a tasty change of pace.
  • Whip up a blend of mashed potatoes and parsnips for an extra-flavorful side dish.
  • Toss julienned parsnips into your favorite stir-fry recipe for some veggie variety.
  • Substitute chopped cooked parsnips for some or all of the potatoes in your favorite potato salad recipe.
  • Add parsnip chunks to the mix of vegetables in soups and stews.
  • Glaze cooked parsnips like carrots, with brown sugar, honey or mustard.
  • Brown sugar, apples, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger enhance the natural sweetness of parsnips.
  • Pair parsnips with herbs, such as rosemary, dill, chives and thyme, for savory flavor.
Parsnips
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