Parsnips are hardly ever counted as a sought after ingredient. But they should. This root vegetable was so much esteemed in the past that it was once used as a part of the tribute paid to Rome. Nowadays you can buy nothing with a parsnip. Even worse – parsnips are said to be fed to pigs in modern Italy. What a pitiful downgrade. But we believe that parsnips deserve our attention too. We can make the most of this root – just think of its natural sweetness, in which it resembles carrots. It’s a very versatile ingredient. Cook it however you like: roasted, steamed, baked, fried – it’s always a great side-dish but it can shine on its own.
Let’s start with the roasted veggies. You’ll need roughly 2 kg / 4,4 lbs of parsnips, 1,2 kg / 3 lbs of potatoes, 1 kg / 2,2 lbs of carrots – all peeled, halved, parboiled for 10 minutes in salted water, and drained. Toss potatoes with half of a garlic bulb, crushed, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, good amount of olive oil in a pan, put into an oven that’s preheated to 220 ˚C / 425 ˚F and roast for 45 minutes until golden. Mix parboiled parsnips and carrots with 4 Tbsp of honey, 4 tsp of butter and oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and also send it into the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden. Chop some extra rosemary and grate orange zest, blend them, and sprinkle over the veggies when they are ready to be served.
Parsnips and potatoes are really great friends. You can imagine them in different preparations together, like in hash browns. Take 450 g / 1 lb of potatoes and 450 g / 1 lb of parsnips, peel them, coarsely grate, and then try to squeeze as much liquid as possible from them. Otherwise, it will hinder browning. Add to the mixture 1 medium thinly sliced onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 beaten egg, salt, pepper. Then divide everything into several similar pieces and flatten them. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and start frying your hash browns, not overcrowding the pan, on low for 4-5 minutes on one side before turning to the other. Your goal – crispy, but tender on the inside, golden parsnip-potato cakes. You can have them in the morning with fried egg and bacon or cook them for brunch and serve with sour cream and brined salmon aka lox and garnished with chopped scallions.
But to really understand the power of parsnips, you have to try them honey-roasted with some polenta and parmesan cheese. Cook 500 gr / 1 lb of trimmed and cut in half root veggies in a pot of salted water for 10 minutes. Drain, let them steam, put into a roasting tray, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of flour, pour 1-2 Tbsp of honey, and toss to coat evenly. Then pop into a preheated to 190˚C / 370 ˚F oven and let roast for 30-40 until golden. Don’t forget to turn veggies every once in a while, for even colour. Serve with polenta mixed with grated parmesan and nutmeg. This will be your ultimate dinner with the unjustly forgotten vegetable.