Recently I had the pleasure of attending a fabulous class, taught by and in the home of local cooking maestra Evie Lieb.
In the class we covered many dishes, but my favorite was the Roasted Parsnips with Horseradish-Herb Butter.
I love these parsnips! Note to those who run from horseradish -- try it anyway.
I can't distinguish the horseradish from the flavors of the parsnips and butter, and neither could my parents until I told them what was in it. The flavors of the ingredients are a perfect complement to each other.
What is a Parsnip?
Parsnips look like funny white carrots, which makes sense--they're members of the carrot family. They have a sweet, mild, earthy flavor that's all their own. You can actually eat them raw, but cooking improves their taste and texture.
How to Pick the Best Parsnips
Look for parsnips that are small, rather than beefy. Large parsnips can be fibrous, while smaller ones are more tender and have a better flavor. The larger the parsnip, the larger its woody core—a part that's best removed, rather than cooked.
Avoid parsnips that are shriveled, spotted, or floppy. Parsnips are best in the cold weather months, fall to winter.
How to Prep Parsnips for Cooking
Peel parsnips as you would carrots. Cut off the narrow end of the parsnip first. Then quarter the wide end lengthwise so you can cut out and remove the fibrous core, if needed. Sometimes the core isn’t very hard or developed, and you don’t need to remove it.
Parsnips will discolor if cut and stored over an hour or two. To minimize browning of cut parsnips, refrigerate in water with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Love Parsnips? Try These Recipes!
- Pureed Roasted Parsnips
- Root Vegetable Pot Pie
- Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips, Chive, and Parsley
- Sautéed Chard with Parsnip
Note that parsnips at the end of the season (February vs. November) can have a woodier center, which no amount of cooking can soften. If this is the case with your parsnips, you might want to cut some of the center part out and discard before cooking.
To save time, the parsnips (with the oil, salt, pepper, and broth) can be pre-cooked in a covered container in the microwave for 5 minutes. Transfer to oven to finish cooking in a much shorter time. You may want to uncover them to help evaporate the liquid when in the oven.
Adapted by Evie from a recipe by Grace Parisi in the November 2004 issue of Food and Wine magazine.
- 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 1/2 inch batons
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup stock (low sodium turkey stock, chicken stock or vegetable broth)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 teaspoons drained, bottled horseradish (or homemade)
- 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
- 1/2 small garlic clove, minced
Pre-heat oven to 400°F
Season the parsnips:
In a large roasting pan with sides no more than 2 inches high, toss the parsnips with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add the broth, cover with aluminum foil.
Roast the parsnips:
Roast, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are tender and the stock has evaporated or been absorbed, 20-45 minutes (depending on how tender the parsnips are to begin with). Check often to avoid their getting mushy, especially if they are to be reheated later.
Make horseradish-herb butter:
Combine the softened butter with the horseradish, parsley, chives and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Toss the warm roasted parsnips with the horseradish-herb butter to serve.