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Friday, March 6, 2015

Parsnips

 Parsnips:

About:

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable with an inedible top closely related to the carrot and parsley.  Its long tuberous root has cream colored skin and flesh and can be left in the ground when mature as it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.   Parsnips are grown for their fleshy edible cream colored taproots.

History:

The parsnip in native to Eurasia.  It has been used as a vegetable since antiquity and was cultivated by the Romans and Greeks.  The Romans believed parsnips to be an aphrodisiac.  It was used in Europe as a sweetener before the arrival of cane sugar.  Parsnips were introduced in the U.S. in the nineteenth century.

Uses:

The parsnip is usually cooked but can be eaten raw.  Parsnips resemble carrots and can be used in similar ways, but they have a sweeter taste when cooked.  Parsnips can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried, or steamed.  Roast parsnips are considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English speaking world, and frequently are part of the traditional Sunday Roast.  Parsnips can be fried or thinly sliced and made into crisps.  Parsnips can be made into a wine that has a taste similar to Madeira.  

Nutrition:

Parsnips are high in vitamins and minerals especially potassium.  They also contain antioxidants, and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Health Benefits:

As do carrots, parsnips contain many polyacetylene antioxidants and research studies found that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Season:

Parsnips are available 11 months of the year.  In late August and early September they are usually not around. 

Selecting and Storing:

Choose parsnips that are firm and crisp, not limp with no cracks, no root hairs, no signs of wilting or withering.  They should have a light tan color, not brown.  Choose medium size  parsnips for the best flavor.  
Parsnips have a long shelf life.  Store in a cool room, like a root cellar, or in the refrigerator.

So..........Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots:


2 pounds of parsnips, peeled
1 pond carrots, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh dill or parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
If the parsnips and carrots are very thick cut them in half lengthwise.  Then slice each piece diagonally into 1 inch pieces.  Place the cut vegetable on a sheet pan.  Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well.  Roast for 20 - 40 minutes depending on thickness, tossing occasionally  until just tender.  Sprinkle with dill (or parsley) and serve hot.


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