Hardy but Sweet
Parsnips are partial to the cold, the pale root vegetable needs a hard frost to develop it’s trademark sweet flavour.
They may look like the carrot’s paler cousin, but the parsnip has a history and flavour that allows it to stand alone.
Parsnips are almost ancient in origins, present in Europe long before the potato. Many classical writings have mentions of the parsnip within their texts, however, it was the Romans who cultivated the parsnip primarily. They soon discovered as they invaded more temperate, northerly climates that parsnips grew better in these areas. The parsnip soon became the vegetable of choice for ordinary people throughout medieval Europe, with high sugar content and easy to plant.
Now we eat parsnips as a winter vegetable, in stews like the Romans before us as well as roasted, puréed or even in soup. Parsnips are sweet and earthy with creamy white flesh. They’re incredibly versatile. Suited to dishes with spices, like nutmeg or they’re even delicious when curried. Their rich flavour is a welcome addition to many dishes, with their nutty undertone adding depth to casseroles and gratins. However, honey roasted parsnips, with a crisp, sticky outside and as a sweet creamy centre are hard to beat when preparing this November veggie. There is no longer any need for an in-season parsnip to play second fiddle to the other root veggies, they can be grilled, sautéed or even baked to make healthy fibre-rich crisps.
Parsnips are packed full of important micro-nutrients with just one serving of parsnip providing 25% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. The high number of anti-oxidants present in parsnips, make it an ideal addition to your diet to stave off that winter flu and boost your immune system. Not to mention parsnips are rich in fibre, making them an incredibly good source of carbohydrates and energy.
This month's Parsnips from Keeling's Select comes from Thornes in Lusk, Co. Dublin .