Thursday, October 9, 2008

Food of The week: Parsnips

All of a sudden the winds changed a little bit, air got crisper and I put on some bigger socks. It’s time for bundle up for fall. But, there is a silver lining, it's also time for autumn veggies.

This week, it’s carrots ugly albino cousin, the Parsnip. But hey! Don’t be a veggist (one who is discriminatory against certain vegetables just because of the color of their peel) the parsnip holds a sweet, nutty, sitting-by-the-fireside kind of flavor.

History
The ‘snip is a cold weather vegetable. It actually requires some freezing temperatures to convert its starchy compounds into sugar. Before the Idaho potato dominated the American scene this little guy kept the colonists and their cattle well fed all winter long. And their health might have been better for it. (not that the spud isn’t great because it IS!)

Health
In one serving of parsnips you’ll get almost 7 grams of fiber, half your daily potassium and a healthy dose of vitamin C. We all know what fiber and Vitamin C contribute to a healthy body, but let me remind you about the third nutrient. Potassium keeps your muscles and nerves functioning properly and helps you store carbohydrates as fuel. Perfect! When you eat a parsnip, not only does the fibrous tuber give you carbs (the healthy kind) but potassium helps hang on to the power.

Cooking
Now, I understand this is not a vegetable people are familiar with. So, let me break it down for you. Luckily, everything you do with a parsnip is easy. First, wash and peel the waxy skin. Then try cutting it into French fry shapes (avoiding the core) and roasting them in the oven with a little butter or olive oil (roast means setting your oven at 475 for about 20 minutes.) Salt, pepper and you’re good to go. Try cooking them like mashed potatoes, sautéing with carrots and rosemary or popping them in a soup. The sweetness of the ‘snip goes really well with a strongly flavored meat like sausage or seasoned pork loin.

7 comments:

mattmooo said...

Hi- i love parsnips- they taste so nutty. And i dont mean to be rude but i just wanted to say that vitamin K is not the same as Potassium (elemental symbol K). Potassium is a metal element that is essential as ions in the body (especially for muscles, water retention etc). Vitamin K is a complicated organic molecule (made up or carbon rings) which is an important cofactor for enzymes and also is linked to reducing heat problems. I didnt mean to be rude but misinformation can be dangerous.

Ellie Barczak said...

Very important, and not rude at all!! Changed, Immediately. Thanks, I'll have to take a closer look at the source, most likely user error.

Olga said...

can't recall if i'm a fan of parsnips or not, but guess will find out: making roasted vegetables tonight, and one of them is parsnips

Gastroanthropologist said...

Ugh! I wished I read this about 20 mintues earlier. I got a huge bag of parsnips earlier this week and they started to get a teeny bit soft so I immediately chopped them up to make mashed parsnips. They are literally cooling in a dish on my counter right now. But parsnip oven fries! That would have so satisfied me right about now!

Claire said...

my mom always makes parsnips and carrots mashed together...so delicious

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Carissa @ Pretty/Hungry said...

I really enjoy parsnips. Lovely post!