Thick-stemmed parsnips may look like carrots with all the color drained out of them, but they have a complex, herbaceous flavor that's mysterious in its appeal. When I roast parsnips with other veggies, for example, guests can't distinguish them from potatoes or turnips until they taste them. Then it's, "What is this!? I love it."
Here’s another method that gets a great response.
1. Make the sauce by combining sour cream, green onions, horseradish and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel parsnips. Cut them crosswise into 2 1/2-inch chunks, slice the chunks lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks, then cut planks into sticks. Toss with olive oil and a little sea salt.
3. Spread parsnips in a single layer on baking sheets lined with unbleached parchment paper (for easy clean-up). Bake 15 minutes; toss well and add additional salt. Continue to bake, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes total. Serve immediately, with horseradish sour cream for dipping.
Parsnips prosper in northern climes and gain sweetness after a frost, making them a late-fall favorite. Choose firm, heavy-feeling parsnips and avoid any that are split or flaccid. Tenderness has little to do with size (and more to do with age), so feel free to buy large ones to reduce peeling time.
Parsnips can be eaten raw (try grating them into a slaw-like salad tossed with lemon juice and olive oil) but cooking them brings out more of their fragrance and zip. Boiled parsnips mashed with cream and butter are downright unctuous, but for something a little different, simmer sliced parsnips in apple or pear cider with a tablespoon or two of butter, then raise heat and reduce the liquid to a glaze. Grated parsnips can replace carrots in carrot cake or zucchini in zucchini bread. They are great in soups and incredible in curried dishes.
Copyright by Terese Allen