What’s in the Box? Parsnips!

Welcome to our series, What’s in the Box! Each week we feature in-season vegetables, tell you what’s great about them and the best ways to prepare them.

If you were shopping your local farmer’s market this weekend, you probably came across an abundance of root veggies.  This late in the season our farms are pulling the last of leeks, potatoes, beets, onions, carrots and parsnips.  I was lucky enough to score some sweet baby spinach too.

I’ve mentioned my love for roasting vegetables before and at this time of year, I love the warmth of the oven and the fragrance of herbs like thyme and rosemary.  This week we’re featuring parsnips, a root veggie that is perfect for roasting and pairing with a blend of savory spices.

PARSNIPS!

‘Snip what?  The parsnip is the carrot’s cousin.  This root vegetable is surprisingly versatile.  In Scotland, “neeps and tatties”, parsnips and potatoes, is one of it’s most famous dishes.  Our winter farmer’s markets are winding down now.  It’s time to start planning for Spring planting – say WHAT?!  Yes, Spring is around the corner, and while I can’t complain about this mild winter we’ve had, I can always look forward to Spring which leads to my favorite season: Summer and sunshine and warmth and boating and the beach and bare feet and….you get where I am going.  A girl can dream and until then, let’s get down to business about parsnips.

The Good stuff

With white flesh and a very distinct long shape – very wide at the top, super slim at the bottom.  This veggie is high in potassium and fiber, and holds a good amount of vitamin C, folate, manganese, zinc and iron too.  A half a cup of parsnips is just 55 calories.  Simple.

The Best Ways to Enjoy

Roasting.  No surprise here.  Here are a couple of variations that I love:

Roasted Parsnips & Carrots.  1 1/2 lbs. each of parsnips and carrots.  1 TBSP olive oil, 1/2 TSP dried thyme, 1 TSP of sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Peel the parsnips and carrots.  Cut the parsnips so that the thinner part is separate from the thicker part.  You’ll notice parsnips are much wider at the top than the bottom.  Then, halve or quarter the thick part so it is about the same size as the bottom, thinner part.  From there, cut them into 3/4 inch length pieces.  Halve or quarter the carrots lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.  Toss with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.  Lay flat on parchment paper on a rimmed baking pan and roast for about an hour, or until browned and pierced easily with a fork.

Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary.  1 1/2 lbs. of parsnips.  2 TSP of fresh chopped or dried rosemary, salt & pepper to taste.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Peel, separate the wider top from the thinner bottom and then halve or quarter the thick part so it is about the same size as the bottom, thinner part.  From there, cut them into 2 inch long pieces.  They will be like parsnip fries.  We all love fries, right?  Toss with olive oil, rosemary and salt & pepper.  Lay flat on parchment paper on a rimmed baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes, or until golden and pierced easily with a fork.  You will want to toss them about 1/2 way through cooking to brown them nicely on all sides.

The Huffington Post offers a good variety (and pretty photos) of other unique ways to cook with parsnips here – soups, stews, salads, as a side dish and even parsnip biscuits!  I hope you find some inspiration to go outside the box with your parsnips, since well, it’s what’s in the box this week!

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