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Cooking with Parsnips

New Leaf Market E-newsletter January 16, 2012

By Gretchen Hein

Ever wonder about those long, cream-colored, carrot-like things in the produce case? Are they carrots, radishes, horseradish roots? What do they taste like? How are they prepared?

Parsnips, fairly new to southern cuisine, have been common in Europe and northern climates for centuries. Recipes containing parsnips date back to the Middle Ages. Parsnips belong to the same family as carrots and provide many similar health benefits. Packed with anti-oxidant and anti-fungal properties, parsnips contain dietary fiber and B vitamins, vitamin K and vitamin E. Add to that a fair number of essential minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus, and it looks like trying parsnips is a worthwhile adventure.

A good parsnip will be firm, moderately sized and have relatively smooth, blemish-free skin. Large ones tend to be woody so steer clear of them. If you are unsure how to choose parsnips, the produce staff at New Leaf Market will be happy to help you. If your parsnips come with greens attached, remove them and store them in your vegetable bin in a plastic bag or some other container that will help them maintain their firm nature.

Parsnips have a mild nutty, sweet and delicate taste. Their slightly starchy, smooth and light texture means that they can be prepared in a variety of ways. One of my winter favorites is a mixed roasted root vegetable dish that includes potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips and parsnips. To prepare, chop the veggies into similar sizes. Toss them in an oil rub made with olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and herbs of your choice. Roast in a 350° F oven, turning occasionally until tender.

Parsnips are a great addition to soups and stews and can be steamed, baked, broiled, or boiled. They can be served as appetizers, grated raw in a salad or as a tasty side dish. You can include parsnips when making mashed potatoes or include them in your favorite casserole dishes. Cruise the web if you need specific recipes. I found a new favorite at SimplyRecipes.com. Be sure to check out Allrecipes.com, Food.com, and of course New Leaf Market’s recipe database as well. Now’s a great time to add them to your repertoire!

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