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The Parsnip Challenge

Ok, I get most of my veggies from a community shared agriculture program. I pay in and each week I get a batch of fresh organic veggies and the most delicious eggs with the brightest yolks I've ever seen.

Today I got parsnips. Now... I remember not liking them as a kid but I eat other things I didn't like back then. I got them today but I already peeled and chopped one small one into a small pot of soup (spinach, chard, carrots, red potato, tomato and hot italian sausage... and parsnip). I had a bite of one piece so far... and meh, it's ok, nothing to cheer about. I am kind of indifferent with it.

I did a search on here and found more or less what I'd expect... but I want something DELICIOUS, not meh... is this POSSIBLE? I want that one recipe that puts all parsnips everywhere in a state of sheer envy. There has to be one. I mean, it isn't a terrible veggie... not overpowering or stinky. It's just really lacking personality. I want parsnip pizazz!!

But there is a catch: I have been unemployed lately due to severe illness. I am ok and looking for work again but for now, the budget is well.. ok, maybe budget is really not the right word. The ingredients have to be accessible or relatively easy to find and they can't be super-expensive. If parsnips served with pheasant is the bomb, well tough... I can't make that.

Are you up for it?

Gentlemen/women... start your parsnips!!

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  1. Roast them! Cut into about 1 inch chunks, toss with oil and salt and roast at 350 (stir a couple times on the baking sheet) until they are soft through and browned. They get a really nice sweet but not overpoweringly sweet taste. I roasted like 2 lbs and went through them in 2 days, they were so good.

    7 Replies
    1. re: DrMag

      Second the roasting rec. they're tasty alone or mixed with carrots.

      1. re: DrMag

        me, three -- LOVE roasted turnips.

        1. re: sunshine842

          I like to roast them with carrots, brussel sprouts and cauliflower/ Sometimes I add onions if I have some pearals. Olive oil and salt.

          1. re: katz66

            Cippolinis, if you have them, too.

            and OMG two weeks later just realized I wrote "turnips" instead of "parsnips"


            1. re: sunshine842

              Don't worry about it. I like both mashed.

        2. re: DrMag

          + 2 or is it 3... especially with the carrots. mmm :)

          1. re: jujuthomas

            there are many times that my husband and I end up ignoring the chicken or roast because we're wolfing the roasted veggies.

            If I have a fair amount of miscellaeous "stuff" laying around, I might add any combination of parsnips, potatoes, carrots, leeks, a few cloves of garlic, cubed celeriac...any winter root vegetables. Toss in olive oil with some salt and pepper., then put under the rack holding the roast, so the veggies get basted with the juices in the oven.

            Incredibly simple and basic, but so tasty and satisfying (and actually a really safe standby for guests!)

        3. I have the method for you. This is seriously delicious.

          Preheat your oven to 400 F. Peel the parsnips, and cut them into roughly baby-carrot-sized hunks. Toss them with chicken fat and salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet, so that each parsnip has a little space around it. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are browning, possibly black in a couple places. These are obviously best when freshly cooked and slightly crisp, but they're so good I've been known to eat cold leftovers the next day, and to wish there were more. They do shrink quite a lot, so make a little more than you think you'll want.

          This concentrates and caramelized the sugars, and who would not love salt, fat, and sugar? Vary the kind and amount of fat depending on whether you're feeling more indulgent or more virtuous. I'm afraid I never measure, but I just use enough fat to give each piece a little sheen. No big puddle of fat in the bottom of the bowl necessary.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tartinet

            I love my parsnips roasted in sticks. My husband treats them like fries, dipping in ketch or spicy mayo.

            Also, parsnips are great in chicken matzah ball soup. We like the parsnips, but you can leave them in large chunks and remove before eating. Even if you remove them, there's a great flavor to the soup.

          2. I also agree with roasting them, they are very delicate in flavour when done this way. I put mine in a parchment paper envelope and add some olive oil and coarse salt. I cook alongside a roast. As well, I have seen them used grated with carrots in a carrot, raisin salad.

            1. They make excellent chips. You can slice them into rings, or longwise into strips. If you don't care to deep fry you could try brushing with oil and baking them at around 425F on a rack over a baking sheet (I haven't actually done that, but it works with potatoes, so it should with parsnips as well).

              1. I think these are purportedly better after a freeze, so if you haven't converted this fall, please do give them a try after frost.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sr44

                  Yes, spring-dug parsnips are sweeter. Parsnips CAN be very sharp and harsh, in which case they need to be roasted or sauteed to caramelization. My theory - and that's all it is - is that since carrots with cracks tend to be woody and bitter, parsnips may follow the same path. I look for thinner ones without cracks. So far so good, but I don't buy them often. One of the best restaurant sides I ever had was in late spring - mashed parsnips that clearly contained a load of butter.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Iiiinteresting. I was wondering how anyone could find them so disagreeable. I bought them once and found them just shockingly delicious- buttery, sweet, kind of like a carrot, only much better. I was fishing around in the soup to find them all. That may explain the difference between my impression and the OP's.

                2. Agree with roasting them. But accept that maybe you really don't care for them much. My Dad called them "perfumed potatoes".

                  1. Creamy parsnip soup. Slice into chicken broth, simmer (or even crockpot), add a drop of sherry of white wine, a bit of salt and pepper; puree in food processor or with immersion blender. Creamy on its own but can add a bit of milk or cream to take it over the top.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                      Yes, I had forgotten, someone made this once for a dinner party and it was really tasty. I had no idea it was parsnips. I thought it was some variation on a creamy potato soup. They are pretty decent roasted, but the soup was a real surprise and very satisfying.

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        I'm afraid I'm not much help since I'm not much of a cook, but visiting a friend in the U.K. at some pub we had a meal of roast meat and the parsnips were a nice slightly sweet addition to the meal. The parsnips were cooked with the roast. The other thing with parsnips is my friend's dad made wine from parsnips. Maybe you could look up a recipe. I'm not much of a drinker, but I thought it had a nice, mild somewhat apple-like flavor.

                    2. Their sweetness goes amazingly well in soup with curry flavours. You can use any combination of curry-type spices that you like or have handy, or just add a dollop of good-quality tandoori curry paste or similar. IMHO this is by far the best use for parsnips which I agree can be very uninspiring.

                      1. Make parsnip/carrot pancakes -- more or less like potato pancakes except that the vegetables will not give up any moisture. Shred equal parts parsnips & carrots. Add egg, a bit of baking powder, flour, salt & pepper, and stir. Fry in hot oil. (Got this idea from Whole Foods, which has them in its deli case for carry out.)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: masha

                          what does the baking powder do in this recipe?

                          This sounds good and I want to give it a try. It may not be low carb but should be less than potatoes.

                          1. re: seamunky

                            The baking powder causes the cake to rise a bit (similar to potato pancakes, if you've ever made them).

                        2. I adore parsnips. Aside from roasting, soup, and puree, something like a bread pudding might make good use of an abundance, and also include ingredients you'd have on hand (plenty of substitution possibilities for cheese/herbs/etc.)

                          1. Ok, I hate parsnips and the thing I hate most is the sweet, strong flavour, so roasting them seems a really bad plan. Does the curry soup mitigate these flaws? Parsnips are cheap so I'd love to find a way to cook them.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dianne0712

                              They are excellent in curry soup.

                              1. re: dianne0712

                                I also am not keen on the way that parsnips are sweet when somehow you think they ought to be savoury. Making a curried parsnip soup really does turn that sweetness into a good base for the other flavours, making it seem much less obvious and obtrusive.

                                Here's the recipe I use:
                                Soften an onion and a garlic clove in butter. Stir in 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander and cook 1 min. Add about 1lb peeled, sliced parsnips and stir well, then add 2 tsp medium curry paste (or to taste). Add 3/4 pt stock and simmer 15 mins until parsnips are tender. Then blend with a stick blender until smooth and add 3/4 pt milk. Heat through and add 2 tbsp sour cream or yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season and top with a swirl of yoghurt and chopped coriander leaves if liked; good served with naan bread.

                                As you say, this is really cheap to make but very tasty and satisfying.

                                1. re: flashria

                                  Oooooh! Sounds good! Thanks! I love cilantro.

                              2. I'm not the biggest fan of parsnips either but my husband loves them, so I'm always trying to find interesting ways to disguise them. I found this recipe in this month's Food and Wine and thought it looked interesting - the wine might help cut that sweet earthy taste (which is what I don't like about parsnips): http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ch...

                                1. Roast is good. You may even want to increase the sweetness with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

                                  We also grate them, along with other root veg and sliced leek and then steam them as an accompaniment. Leftovers go into a frittata.

                                  For a main feature, steam them in chunks and mash them with steamed potato. Flavour them with herbs or spices as you wish. Form them into sausage shapes; egg and breadcrumb them. Give them a quick fry to colour the sausages then finsih in theoven. This was our dinner a few nights ago, served with a tomato sauce - some greens alongside would be good.

                                  1. Sounds weird, and is fairly complicated to make, but actually super-good: parsnip tempura.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Elster

                                      as is sweet potato,my very favorite tempura,parsnip and long bean are tied for second

                                      1. re: lcool

                                        ooh never tried long bean - baby corn cobs have to be up there too though :)

                                    2. My personal favorite way to cook parsnips is a traditional glaze.

                                      If you're unfamiliar with the technique, here's a primer:

                                      Chop parsnips to bite size chunks and put in a small saucepan or saute pan. Fill pan with just enough water (or chicken stock if you like) to barely cover the parsnips. If the parsnips are especially fibrous, just throw this on the stove. If not, strain out the parsnips, reserve the water, and heat the water on its own until it starts to boil, and THEN add the parsnips back. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar (honey or maple syrup are both fine substitutes), and a knob of butter. A splash of bourbon is also good if you like.

                                      Cook the parsnips until the liquid has evaporated. If the liquid is evaporating too fast to cook the parsnips, add a bit more water. Too slow (leading to mushiness) - turn up the heat or pour a bit of the liquid out. When you're done, the butter combines with some of the sugars and starches and flavors of the parsnips that leached out into the water and you'll wind up with a glaze of intense and pure flavor of parsnip coating the vegetables.

                                      Obviously, this is not what to serve someone if you're trying to disguise their flavor.

                                      1. The Roasted Parsnips with Bacon and Rosemary recipe from Molly Stevens' All About Roasting is wonderful:


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bg90027

                                          I also like her recipe with chicken and (alcoholic) cider.

                                        2. Mixed fifty - fifty with russets, they make some of the best scalloped potatoes you've ever had.

                                          1. I use them in soup with sweet potatoes and white beans. Cut up equal amounts of peeled parsnips & sweet potatoes, toss with olive oil and roast. Saute some onion & garlic and add the roasted veggies, some chicken or veggie broth, and a cup or two of cooked white beans, any type. Simmer together for a few minutes then puree. Thin with water or additional broth if it's too thick. Add herbs of your choice: I usually do rosemary/thyme or an herbed sea salt thing. Havne't tried adding curry powder but I bet it;d be great. Freezes well, I do single-serving portions for quick lunches during the week.

                                            Roasting the veggies is optional but I like the flavor that is added. Pureeing is optional too but the soup is sooo silky smooth from the beans, it's totally worth getting the blender dirty :-)

                                            1. Here is a link to the recipe for a delicious soup made from sweet corn and parsnips. Just thinking about it is getting me in the mood to make it again.


                                              1. Mark Hix has a recipe for Baked Parsnips with Lancashire Cheese in his cookery book Hix Oyster & Chop House.

                                                When we made it, we adjusted quantities, and this is what we used. Served 4.

                                                500 grams parsnips
                                                150 ml double cream
                                                200 ml milk
                                                a pinch of grated nutmeg
                                                2 garlic cloves
                                                salt and freshly ground black pepper
                                                100-150 grams Lancashire cheese, grated

                                                In my own words:
                                                Peel and chop parsnips into thick batons, about 1.5 - 2 inches in length.
                                                In a pan bring the cream, milk, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper to the boil. Turn off heat and allow to cool a little.
                                                Put parsnips into a shallow ovenproof dish, and mix with the cheese.
                                                Pour the cream mixture over the top.
                                                Bake for approximately an hour, until the parsnips are cooked through.

                                                Works with mature cheddar very well too.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: Kavey

                                                  Hix is becoming a hero of mine.

                                                  I recall the late Keith Floyd ate at Hix's restaurant just before he died and Hix later offered the menu as "Floyd's Last Meal". Top job, IMO - Floyd would have loved it.

                                                  Presumably you need a "tasty" Lancashire, rather than one of the milder ones?

                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    Hi, guys -- ooh, that sounds *divine* --


                                                    What would you substitute for the Lancashire/Cheddar, for us Continentals who can't pop round to Lancashire?

                                                      1. re: katz66

                                                        I can't buy sharp cheddar for anything less than a king's ransom (which is why I asked for a substitute for Lancashire AND Cheddar) -- emmental, gruyere ???

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Gee I'd say no. You need a cheese that would have it's own body and any wou would buy would be just the same price as cheddar. Amaican slices or velveta and not going to be good enough for the parsnips.

                                                          1. re: katz66

                                                            I'd asked the question aimed at Kavey and Harters, because they're familiar with the cheeses available here on the European continent...which doesn't include cheddar (available but shockingly expensive) or Velveeta/American slices (which are not only not cheese, but not available)

                                                            I was hoping for advice from someone familiar with other European cheeses, but I'll sort it out.

                                                            I'm not sure you could find anyone to agree with you that French Emmental or Gruyere have no body of their own.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              I think katz misunderstood you and thought you were asking for a substitute that was extremely cheap (velveeta, american singles), and didn't understand that you live in a place where decent cheddar cheese is extremely hard to come by. I imagine that you can make the above dish work substituting with some of the options in France (Gruyere sounds promising, offhand), but I haven't personally tried it.

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                I am sorry I had no idea that you were not in the states. And yes I thought you were asking for a cheap sub.

                                                        2. re: sunshine842


                                                          The sub will be whatever you have to hand that's a good melter and has some strength to it. I don't have access to the range of French cheeses you have, so my instinct would be to say Emmental or Gruyere but you may have better ideas (those two might add too much of a "sweet" edge). What would you make a cheese sauce with?


                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            I'm leaning toward Emmental, or quite possibly a mix of that and Gruyere, simply because the most commonly-available is fairly mild...biggest thing is that I'm not familiar with Lancashire, so wasn't sure of the profile. (and yes, I *did* Google...but a bookish description is sometimes not quite as reliable as someone's actual experience!)

                                                            I'd probably use Emmental as a cheese sauce, as it is the most likely to be the cheese named in a French recipe. (they even put Emmental on pizza here. Pleh.) I make quiche with some mixture of the two (predicated by what's in the fridge bin at the time!)

                                                            and thanks, John, for the advice

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Sorry, am not online much at moment.

                                                              For a mature cheddar, an aged gruyere or comte has the requisite sharp saltiness and strength of flavour though its texture is different and not quite as fatty.

                                                              Lancashire us milder so emmental makes sense, though look for least sweet one, as the younger emmental are a touch sweet.

                                                              Best, try both in two smaller dishes and see which you prefer!


                                                              1. re: Kavey

                                                                I'd thought about blending them, too -- and Comte had crossed my mind, so thanks, for confirming that it's down the right alley!

                                                                I figured they were okay as I would choose them with Cheddar, but it's hard to pick a sub for something you've never actually tried (Lancashire)....a lapse which I intend to correct...

                                                    1. Photo of Hix recipe baked parsnips, above.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Kavey

                                                        I am on my way to the market for parsnips to try this tonight.

                                                          1. re: katz66

                                                            I made this for dinner tonight none left. And used a sharp cheddar Everyone loved it Had it with a pork roast. Thanks again for the recipe

                                                            1. re: katz66

                                                              Really pleased you enjoyed. I like the simple Hix recipes best.

                                                        1. I love them simmered in the juices of a pot roast. A hunk of meat, onions, parsnips, a few hours simmering on a low burner, Add bread and a salad: and voila: dinner.

                                                          Seriously, parsnips simmered this way are wonderful. I go for the parsnips over the beef.

                                                            1. For something completely different I recommend parsnip rice. Just try it once. Place raw parsnips in a food processor and pulse until it is the size of rice. I like to make mine into a salad with pineapple, cashews, lime, currants and curry powder.


                                                              4 Replies
                                                                1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                  For years we have eaten a similar prep using butternut squash,toasted almonds,cashews,lime,green peppercorns and mango as a side with short grain rice,risotto or sushi.Gave a variation of your offering a try last evening.
                                                                  Good,tasty,thank you

                                                                  1. re: lcool

                                                                    Oh my that sounds so good. What seasoning if anything more than snp.

                                                                    1. re: katz66

                                                                      Variations,small additions I've used are;sweet onion,parsley,cumin (a little goes a long way here)hot chilies,soy sauce
                                                                      Depends on the flavor profile I want to end with and the menu.The only nuisance for me is the citrus,amount and timing to avoid off colour with minimal salt.

                                                                2. I am a self-confessed parsnipaholic. A diminutive older relative introduced them to me as she leaned over her kitchen counter munching a peeled parsnip (she also introduced me to the sweet peeled cores of broccoli stems).

                                                                  My wow parsnip dish is a variation on those posted by others.

                                                                  1 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled
                                                                  3 tbs. olive oil
                                                                  2 generous pinches cayenne
                                                                  1/4 tsp salt; more to taste
                                                                  2 large cloves garlic, minced

                                                                  Mix the oil, cayenne, minced garlic and salt in a ziplock bag.

                                                                  Cut the parsnips into matchsticks 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Add to bag. Shake until fully mixed and coated.

                                                                  You can leave the bag in the refrigerator overnight or bake right away.

                                                                  Preheat oven to 450º F. Put parsnips in a rimmed baking sheet large enough to fit them on a single layer. Roast for 20-30 minutes until well-browned and crisp, but not blackened. Shake and stir midway through. Eat 'em while hot.