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The Princely Parsnip

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Today's the day of the local organic farmer's market, and I would like to find some parsnips to use in a couple of recipes. However, I've neither bought nor used a parsnip before. What should I look for in the way of texture, aroma, color, and so forth? The only parsnips I've seen in the local stores (including the organic grocery) have been a little flacid at the pointy end.

Shel

Shel
post #2 of 11
The same thing you look for in any root veg: overall firmness, lack of blemishes (although parsnips can be delicate, so a little might not be terrible), lack of soft spots. Possibly also, like carrots, lack of root hairs, which would mean advanced age.

What plans do you have for them? They are fabulous roasted -- all that sugar caramelizes -- and make a terrific puree with potatoes or for soup. Got to balance the sweetness with acidity, though. And they take beautifully to sweet spices.
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks - I sorta figured on looking for carrot-like qualities, but wanted to get some feedback from more experienced parsnippians.

Depending on how many good ones can be found, I plan to use one or two in a vegetable broth, to either supplement, or possibly replace a like number of carrots, and it would be nice to try roasting some along with carrots, red bell peppers, butternut squash, and some Yukon Gold 'taters.

Thanks for your help.

Shel
post #4 of 11
Parsnips are a rough one, Shel. First off, in addition to the points made by Suzanne, you want to pick those with little taper. Eschew the sharply tapered ones entirely.

Also keep in mind that most commercially grown ones are in the ground too long. This leads to hard, pithy cores. So you may want to discard the cores. If you can get them young enough this won't be a problem. Just split one, and you'll be able to see if the core needs to go.

Parsnips have a long history, but seem to have lost favor in the U.S. Now they're coming back into vogue. Thank goodness. I love them.

Here's a sample of an old-time recipe that I've adapted. It dates back to the time Fort Niagara belonged to the French:

Pomate of Parsnips

2 lb parsnips
6 tbls butter
2 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls lemon juice
salt
cream

Peel parsnips. Core if necessary. Cut in pieces and place in pot of boiling slated water. Boil until soft.

Mash parships and combine with butter, sugar, and lemon juice. Add enough cream so parsnips resemble creamy mashed potatoes.

Serve on fried toast points.

One we've started making recently combines parsnips with carrots. It makes a lot, though, so I'd advise halving the recipe first time:

Carrots & Parsnips w/Rosemary

8 carrots
8 parsnips
1 branch fresh rosemary
3 cups chicken stock
6 tbls chilled butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Cut carrots and parsnips into thin, 2-3 inch julienne strips. Chop the rosemary leaves.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Blanch the carrots in the stock until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and cook the parsnips in the same stock until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove parsnips and boil the stock until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 25 minutes.

Swirl in the butter. Stire in the rosemary, carrots and parsnips. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Enjoy!
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, Thanks for the "tips." I was wondering about the pointy parsnips, which seem to be the olnly ones I could find in the local natural grocery store (Don't get me started on the quality of the produce I'm finding there!), that's why I want to visit the farmer's market, maybe I can find some better 'snips. If not, I may have to wait until Saturday, when a larger market is open just a few miles further down the road.

Thanks for the recipes. They look good - especially the one with the carrots - and help me to better understand the parsnip.

Shel
post #6 of 11

Parsnips

Blunt-ended ones are the best to use, they seem to have little bitterness to them. I usually will make them the same as mashed pototes, adding some butter and cream while I'm mashing. Yummmmmmmm:D
"We may live without poetry, music and art;We may live without conscience and live without heart;We may live without friends, we may live without books;But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
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"We may live without poetry, music and art;We may live without conscience and live without heart;We may live without friends, we may live without books;But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
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post #7 of 11
Parsnips don't seem to get much respect these days, but I like them cut into thin lengthwise slices - 1/8" thick or so - dusted with a little flour, and sauteed in a little EVOO* with a bit of garlic in it until they are lightly caramelized. Nice sweet, nutty flavor. :bounce:

Mike

*sorry to sound like Rachel Ray here :eek:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #8 of 11
I like them raw, but these days when I'm watching sugar intake they're off the menu. :(
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post #9 of 11
I core them,cut them lengthways into 4,toss in a little Olive Oil,sea salt,black pepper and a teaspoon of honey.Then roast,turning half way until soft and charred around the edges.Naturally sweet,yet still savoury and deeply satisfying with any roast dinner.:lips:
post #10 of 11

Parsnips

Indianwells, my daughter-in-law from Hollys Head doesn't cook but last Christmas made these and I loved them. I never had parsnips until then. You're right, they are very sweet and savoury made this way. This little vegetable is a real surprise if you've never had them before.
post #11 of 11
No winter 'roast dinner' (whether beef, lamb, pork or chicken) in the UK would be complete without roasted parsnips to accompany the roast potatoes and the other veggies served with the meal.

I don't add honey to mine. I find they are such a sweet veg that tossing in oil is all they need.

In fact, we had roast parsnips with a roast chicken for lunch today.:lips:
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