Yesterday I advocated for greater consideration of the modest parsnip, along with the promise of a follow-up of recipes and more (parsnippets?). So here goes nothing.
I recognize this may not be the most popular post, especially in a month that’s included chocolate truffles and chocolate pots de crème. It’s also doubtful that anyone will ever stumble across this entry in a Google quest (“If only I could find the perfect parsnips recipe…”). Regardless, I stand by my conviction that parsnips are highly agreeable, and in the case of the recipe I offer today, at times downright delectable.
So to quote Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning—it’s a very good place to start.
Most parsnips look just like carrots, only tannish-white. It’s no surprise that they are in fact related to carrots: both are members of the umbelliferae family whose other members include fennel, celery, parsley, chervil and celeriac.
Parsnip flavor & texture: Parsnips have a sweet, somewhat nutty, delicate taste and a mild celery-like fragrance. The texture is starchy, similar to potatoes, but far lighter. Fresh ones have a buttery-soft consistency when cooked, but beware: old parsnips are fibrous and bitter. You can tell if a parsnip is in its youthful prime from its firmness; it should be crisp, smooth and sturdy (i.e., avoid limber parsnips). Also, the whiter ones are, in general, the most tender.
Parsnip nutrition: It is pretty impressive, too. They are low in calories (about 130 for a whole one 9-inch parsnip of medium girth) and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. Parsnips boast a substantial amount of fiber, too, as well as significant amounts of folic acid, calcium, and potassium, vitamin C (1/2 cup has 20% of a day’s supply) and small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, iron, and zinc.
Before I sink deeper into lecture mode (“Buehler…Buehler…”), let’s get on to the cooking. Up for today, it’s creamy, mashed parsnips. Technically, “mashed,” because you blitz them in a food processor until light and creamy. They are so good!
Here’s how to make them: Peel the parsnips, just as you would carrots or potatoes, cut into chunks, and boil in a large pot of water:
You want to cook the parsnips until they are extremely tender; they are harder than potatoes, so boiling them until they are almost falling apart ensure that the mash will be creamy, not lumpy (even though lumpy is still very taste).
All that’s left? Whiz away in a food processor. Doing this with potatoes leads to gummy results, but not so with parsnips. They become light and and fluffy, and need no milk and barely any fat.
You can sprinkle with chives, as I’ve done, but this creamy “mash” is perfect without them, too. Happy (parsnip) eating, everyone!
- 1-1/2 pounds parsnips
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: minced fresh chives
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, peel and trim the parsnips. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Add the parsnips to water and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until very tender. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water.
- Place parsnips in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add the olive oil and nutmeg; puree until smooth, adding a bit of reserved water, if needed, until very creamy. Season generously, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkling with chives if desired, and eat!