I've never eaten a parsnip. At least not knowingly! I got this idea to try them when I was in a bodega near our gym the other week getting bananas for breakfast when I noticed these white colored carrot look alikes sitting in the vegetable area. They reminded me of the yellow carrots I found at the Farmers Market around Thanksgiving, but I was sure they must be different.
Turns out these root vegetables are related to carrots but they tend to have a stronger flavor. They have a sweet flavor and starchy texture. Parsnips have been eaten for cenutires, originating in central and southern Europe and there are even records of the vegetable being harvested and eaten during Roman times! So, they've been around and part of diets for a while.
Nutrition facts: Parsnips are actually packed with more nutrients and minerals than carrots. A very good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. They are fat free and low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol.
Shopping tips: Parsnips are at their best from late fall (after the first frost) through the winter. The one thing to keep in mind when shopping for parsnips is that you want them to be firm. They shouldn't bend or give.
Cooking techniques: This is a very versatile food and can be cooked using many techniques. They can be eaten raw, roasted, steamed, boiled, braised, added to stews and soups, pureed, used in place of or with potatoes and mashed, or sauteed.
After learning all of this, there's really no reason not to eat them!
Yesterday I found this very easy recipe for a side dish that includes parsnips. I just picked up a couple carrots, a purple onion, two medium sweet potatoes, and I already had the garlic and olive oil on hand. I mean really, this side dish is just overflowing with vitamins and minerals! The recipe made quite a bit, so we had left overs for today, which is even better. I think this whole thing cost about $5.00.
What do you think? Have you tried parsnips before? Do you include any interesting vegetable in your cooking?