My first brush with parsnips was unfortunate. A well-meaning babysitter, attempting to fulfill my request for a whole peeled carrot as a snack (I was raised in a household where this was a normal request), rummaged through the vegetable bin, pulled out something that resembled a white carrot, peeled it and handed it to me. I ate it -- she told me not to waste food -- but I did not enjoy it. Luckily, once I reached adulthood, I decided to give parsnips another chance... and I fell in love.
Parsnips can resemble white carrots, though the ones I buy from my local farmers market look like anything from white twigs to white tree branches. They're great in a variety of preparations. Anything you do to other root vegetables will work well with parsnips. That being said, here are a few recipes to get you started.
Oven-Roasted Parsnip "Fries"
Parsnips have a naturally nutty and almost spiced flavor which comes out perfectly when simply roasted. Cut 1 pound parsnips into thick fries and toss with 2 tablespoons organic olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, tossing once. This can also be done with a combination of root vegetables, like parsnips, carrots and potatoes.
Spiced Parsnip Soup
Play off of the natural nuttiness of parsnips by combining them with nutmeg and allspice in this creamy soup. First, cut 1 pound of parsnips into pieces of about the same size. In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté 1 minced onion with 1 tablespoon salt until the onion is slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and 2 teaspoons allspice. Add the parsnips and cover with organic vegetable stock, organic chicken broth or water. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the parsnips are very tender. Purée the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Taste for seasoning. This can be served with a few roasted parsnips as a garnish.
Caramelized Onion and Parsnip Flatbread
Parsnips and caramelized onions come together to make an epic topping for flatbread. Thinly slice four organic onions and julienne 1/2 pound of parsnips. Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat in a heavy bottomed skillet, and add the onions and parsnips, along with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon organic honey. Cook, stirring frequently and adding water when the onions and parsnips stick to the pan, until you have a thick, caramelized mass, about an hour.
Next, choose your dough. We have a great pizza dough recipe that would be perfect, but you can also use a storebought pizza dough or even storebought puff pastry. Spread the caramelized onion and parsnip mixture over the dough of your choice. Bake until the crust is browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a generous amount of organic goat cheese (anywhere from 2-4 ounces, according to your personal tastes).