Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is This Thing?

You might recall that one of my goals for this year is to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. One of the things on my 'healthy to do list' for this week is to learn a recipe using parsnips.

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?


Chanda the Eco-Cheap Mom said...

I don't think I've ever tried parsnips. They look like they'd taste like a turnip and I like those. That side dish looks simple. Perhaps we'll give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

Stopping by from SITS. Have a fabulous day!

Heather said...

blech. LOL But I think I hate more vegetables than anyone I know. I should try to get my kids to eat those though. They are really good for them.
Stopping by from SITS!

Jocelyn said...

Wow. I have never heard of a parsnip before. I'm sure I have seen them though....I must have. I like that you can use them in place of potatoes. That's pretty key when you are trying to avoid them. Very interesting indeed!

karen@fitnessjourney said...

I love roasted vegetables, it really brings out the sweetness.

TallGuySurfing said...

I don't think I've ever noticed parsnips before. I'll have to look for them. I recently discovered star fruit. I had seen them before, but never tried the curious looking fruit because they tend to be quite expensive around my area... but on a few recent trips to Puerto Rico they seem to grow like weeds down there and rain from the star fruit trees year around! If you get them at the correct ripeness they are really good!

Two Normal Moms said...

Stopping by from SITS and so excited to see you talking about parsnips! I discovered parsnips last year and have been using them every since - even grew them in our garden last summer and are STILL pulling them and eating them (we live in the northwest - mild winters). Yes, I roast them with other veggies similar to you, also shred them with carrots on salad and use them in any recipe calling for carrots and potatoes! Love it!

Matt said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I don't think I have actually had a parsnip before. Perhaps I will pick some up this weekend and give that dish a try!

Jenn said...

Interesting post! Honestly, I don't think I've ever tried a parsnip and I love vegetables. I will have to add them to my must try before I die list!!