This week’s New Food is a little less exotic than last week’s: the humble parsnip. This root vegetable looks like an albino carrot, but has a sweeter, more interesting taste and a sweet potato-esque texture when cooked.
New Food Friday: Parsnips
What it is: A root vegetable resembling a carrot but with pale white flesh.
What it tastes like: A sweeter version of a carrot. I once heard Bridget Lancaster from America’s Test Kitchen describe parsnips as “banana-y.” While it sounds weird, it does have that sort of flavor profile when roasted.
Where and when to find it: Parsnips are a wintery vegetable, in season from fall to spring. The spring parsnips that have been left in the ground over the winter are sweeter than those harvested earlier in the season. Look for them in the produce section near the carrots.
How to buy it: Smaller parsnips are sweeter and more tender than the larger ones, which can have a tough, woody center. Look for parsnips that are firm, not limp, and without bruises.
How to store it: Store parsnips in the fridge.
How to prepare it: Prepare parsnips like carrots; rinse the outside, then peel away the skin. Slice the parsnips into coins or cut them into sticks or fry-like shapes before sauteeing, roasting, or frying. Or, cut into large chunks to boil before mashing or pureeing.
What I did with it: Parsnips are one of my absolute vegetables. I love including them in mixes of roasted root vegetables, baking them up as fries, even shaving raw parsnip strands into winter salads. On Monday, I’ll share one of my favorite parsnip recipes.
The verdict: Parsnips have all the versatility of carrots, but with a sweeter taste and a more appealing cooked texture (to me, anyway). I’ll be feasting on them all winter long.