What do we know about parsnips? They are bulky, they look like beige carrots and when put side by side top to bottom they form a really nice pattern. But even these facts are far beyond the scope of knowledge of most consumers. Many would easily mistake a parsnip for a regular white carrot. Let’s face it: this root vegetable is a rare guest on our table. But that wasn’t always the case! Parsnip has been cultivated since Roman times, but nowadays it’s not a common food item in an average Italian diet. At least, that applies to humans. But it’s praised by pigs, especially the ones bred for Parma ham a.k.a. prosciutto di Parma. Animals seem to be adoring these long, cream-colored roots. And we shall too. Pardon this little compare-and-contrast piece, but we know for sure: people love parsnips when it’s cooked right.
And here’s the first major convenience of this veg – it is versatile. It can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, fried, steamed. It has some sweetness to it and a long time ago it was even used as a pre-cane sugar sweetener in Europe. But it’s more nuanced than that. When you take a huge bite of it, the flavor is starchy like that of a potato, sweet like carrots and bitter like turnips. But if you are to remember only one thing about parsnips let it be the recipe of a roasted root. With honey. And butter. And some mustard of course.
Take 0.5 kg / 1 lb of parsnips, scrape them clean and cut lengthwise. Put in salted water in a pan and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, mix with 2 tbsp of honey, 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp of butter, salt and pepper and pop straight into the oven heated up to 180C / 360F for 30-40 minutes or until done as cooks would say. Dig in and enjoy.