In the kitchen this Meatless Monday, we’ve got a recipe for Glazed Parsnips, as well as growing, storage and preparation tips from our Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook.
Gisele Hodgdon, a volunteer cooking, tasting and testing recipes out of the Vermont Fresh Handbook worked on this one. Her comments are below in italics.
(adapted from Rombauer et al: The Joy of Cooking)
- 5 medium parsnips
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Handful chopped parsley (optional)
- Using a vegetable peeler, strip the skins from the parsnips. Trim both the root and stem ends. Cut in half crosswise, then cut all of the large halves lengthwise down the middle. If any of the parsnips have a dark yellow, woody-looking core, pry it out with the tip of a knife (this should not be necessary unless the parsnips are overly mature).
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the remaining ingredients and stir together. Add parsnips. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender, 10 to minute 15 minutes.
- Uncover the skillet, increase the heat to high, and boil, stirring often, until the liquid has been reduced to a syrupy glaze that clings to the roots. Watch constantly and be careful not to scorch the veggies.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired and serve immediately.
Notes from Gisele:
This is a very simple, easy- to-prepare side dish that requires only basic pantry items for the glaze. For those on low sodium diets, the salt can be omitted and for those on dairy-free diets, a vegan spread such as Earth Balance Buttery Spread can be substituted for the butter. Even if not on a low sodium diet, I would suggest reducing the amount of salt in this recipe.
Cost of ingredients – To avoid potential woodiness, I used eight small parsnips instead of the five medium parsnips listed in the recipe. I purchased 1.14 pounds of organic parsnips at $2.29 per pound. The cost of all ingredients for this dish was approximately $3.00.
This recipe as I prepared it served three as a side dish. To create four servings, you should probably use at least 1.5 pounds of parsnips which will increase the cost slightly. You would not need to increase the amount of glaze, though, as the recipe was written makes a generous amount of glaze.
This is an excellent recipe to make when short on time. Parsnips cook quickly and the preparation needed for this recipe is minimal. This dish took about 25 minutes from start to finish.
Parsnips are a root vegetable closely related to carrots, which is not surprising given their striking resemblance. Parsnips, which look like a white, leggy carrot, have been a food source for thousands of years. Once one of Europe’s winter food staples, parsnips fell out of popularity with the introduction of the potato in the Middle Ages. Starchy, nutty, and slightly sweet, parsnips were even grown as a sweetener until the 19th century when they were again replaced by another vegetable, the sugar beet. Parsnips, which are now considered more of a specialty vegetable than a staple in many places, have a unique flavor that verges on slightly spicy. Parsnips grow significantly better in cooler climes and develop the best flavor after several frosts. CAUTION: in rare instances, parsnip leaves can cause burn-like rashes.
Parsnips like to be grown in deep, rich, loose soil that is free of rocks and weeds. Like carrots, parsnips should be directly seeded and not transplanted. Parsnip seeds do not store well, so it is important to make sure you don’t use old seeds. Sow seeds thickly about ½ inch deep in the soil in mid-spring. Parsnip seeds can take three weeks or more to germinate, so do not be discouraged if you don’t see seedlings right away! Once seedlings have sprouted and are growing steadily, thin out the plants so that each seedling has several inches of room to grow. Weed frequently and water occasionally in dry weather. Harvest only after a hard frost has occurred for the best flavor. Parsnips are difficult to pull up and will probably need to be dug out with a shovel or spading fork. They can usually be left in the ground well into October.
Parsnips will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several weeks after harvesting. They can also be stored in a root cellar or another cool place, especially if they are packed in damp sand. To freeze parsnips, remove the tops and scrub roots well. Peel and slice as desired. Steam or blanch parsnips for three minutes, cool, and drain. Pack in freezer bags or containers and freeze.
Parsnips have high concentrations of Vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, potassium and carbohydrates. Parsnips are a diuretic. They may help with bladder problems, kidney stones, and detoxifying the body.
Choose medium-sized, smooth-skinned roots without any obvious soft spots. Larger roots can have tough, woody cores. Before preparing parsnips, scrub them thoroughly, cut off the tops, and peel them if you wish. Young, tender parsnips can be eaten raw in salads, but parsnips are most often cooked. Their flavor can be very intense, so experiment with small quantities.
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