Friday, October 23, 2015

Parsnips 101

The parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to carrots and parsley. It is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh and can be left in the ground when mature as it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts. Harvesting begins in late fall after the first frost, and continues through winter. The parsnip is native to Europe and Asia. It has been used as a vegetable prior to the Middle Ages. The Romans cultivated the parsnip, however, because of its close relation to the carrot, it was often mistaken for a carrot in literature and historical records. Prior to the use of sugar cane as a sweetener, the parsnips was used. It was introduced to North America by the French colonists in Canada and the British in the Thirteen Colonies for use as a root vegetable, in the nineteenth century.

Did you know that the parsnip's unique flavor comes when its starches change to sugar? This happens after the first frost, when the vegetable is still in the ground. In Europe, parsnips were used to sweeten jams and cakes before sugar was widely available. People used to believe that eating parsnips could relieve a toothache or tired feet. Unfortunatly it is not true. Today parsnips are mostly used for side dishes however, in Scotland where “neeps and tatties” (parsnips and potatoes) it is one of the most famous main dishes. In 2012, an amateur gardener in the U.K. grew the world's longest parsnips measuring 18.5 inches!

To Store

Store unwashed parsnips in a cool dark place. Wrap parsnips in a paper towel and place in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. They should last up to 2 weeks, if not longer. Cooked parsnips may be refrigerated and used within 3 days. Parsnips can be frozen. To freeze, cut parsnips, boil or steam and freeze in containers. They will last for 8 to 10 months in freezer. Parsnips can also be cooked, pureed and frozen for up to 10 months. For more freezing tips check out this article from Pick Your Own.

To Nourish

Parsnips are high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. They also contain antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. The parsnip aids in lowering the chance of developing diabetes,  reducing cholesterol levels, improving healthy digestive processes, preventing depression, protecting against birth defects in infants, promoting proper growth and development, strengthening the immune system, and lowering blood pressure to protect cardiovascular health. It contains high levels of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and iron, in addition to an impressive range of vitamins, including vitamin B, C, E, and K, as well as high levels of fiber and some protein.

To Prepare

Parsnips can be eaten raw but are most commonly cooked. While they are often substituted for carrots in recipes, they are slightly sweeter in taste than carrots. Parsnips are terrific steamed or roasted and pureed with butter and even glazed. When used in stews, soups and casseroles they add a rich flavor.

To Try

Parmesan Parsnip Chips
Parsnip Hummus Dip with Fiery Chili Oil
Paprika Parsnip Fries
Parsnip Hash Browns
Parsnip Biscuits with Black Pepper and Honey
Roasted Parsnip and Spinach Salad
Roasted Parsnip Salad with Hazelnuts, Blue Cheese and Wheat Beer Vinaigrette
Roasted Parsnip and Endive Salad
Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Minestrone
Roasted Garlic Parsnip and White Bean Soup
Parsnip and Pear Soup
Warm Almond, Garlic and Parsnip Soup
Roasted Parsnip Soup
White Bean Chili with Winter Vegetables
Aunt Gillies Matzo Ball Soup
Norwegian Cod and Root Vegetable Chowder
Hungarian Ham and Bean Soup
Galilean Pork Stew (Poike)
Autumn Chicken Stew
Vegetable Pot-au-Feu
Creamy Parships and Pears
Celeriac and Parsnip Mash
Winter Root Mash with Buttery Crumbs
Honey Mustard Parsnip and Potato Bake
Autumn Root Vegetable with Herbs and Cheese
Root Ribbons with Sage
Baked Parsnips with Rosemary
Roasted Parsnips with Horseradish Mayonnaise
Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
Roasted Parsnips with Chili-Maple Butter
Parsnip Pilaf
Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole
Pasta with Parsnips and Bacon
Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta
Rosemary Rubbed Salmon with Roasted Parsnips, Potatoes and Mushrooms
Roast Fillet of Sea Bass with Parsnip Puree and Caramelized Garlic
Honey Mustard Chicken Pot Pie with Parsnips
Slow Braised Pork Shoulder with Cider and Parsnips
Braised Brisket and Roots
Gascon Style Beef Stew
Panfried Steak and Parsnip Salad

To Use

Roots by Diane Morgan is comprehensive guide and collection of recipes using root vegetables. Discover the fascinating history and lore of 29 major roots, their nutritional content, how to buy and store them, and much more, from the familiar (beets, carrots, potatoes) to the unfamiliar (jicama, salsify, malanga) to the practically unheard of (cassava, galangal, crosnes). More than 225 recipes—salads, soups, side dishes, main courses, drinks, and desserts—that bring out the earthy goodness of each and every one of these intriguing vegetables. From Andean tubers and burdock to yams and yuca, this essential culinary encyclopedia lets dedicated home cooks achieve a new level of taste and sophistication in their everyday cooking. (Barnes & Noble, $29.31)