Parsnips are generally not sold by variety. Small, young parsnips have a sweet taste, since they are high in natural sugars, while larger parsnips have a slightly nutty, ‘woody’ taste.
Select parsnips that are small to medium-sized with creamy-white skin and a smooth, firm surface. Avoid big parsnips or ones with straggly roots or blemishes.
Stored in the crisper, parsnips will last for up to two weeks.
Parsnips should be cooked before eating. If they still have their tops, slice them off before roasting, steaming, boiling or baking. Add them to roasts, soups, casseroles or fritters. Thinly slice them to make chips, grate them into stir-fries or steam them for making mash.
4 quick ways with parsnip
Make parsnip and walnut fritters to serve as a side or as a light meal on its own. Steam 500g parsnips until tender. Purée and mix with 1 egg, 1/2 tablespoon flour, 50g melted reduced-fat table spread and 1 tablespoon milk. Stir through 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Pan-fry large spoonfuls of batter until golden. Serve with tomato chutney or light sour cream.
Make ‘fancy’ mash: steam 500g trimmed parsnips until tender. Drain and set aside. In a separate saucepan, melt together 2 tablespoons each reduced fat table spread and sugar. Add 1/2 diced onion and cook until caramelised. Add onion to parsnips with 1/2 cup light sour cream. Mash parsnip mixture, then stir through a handful of chopped parsley.
Try this spicy-sweet side dish with pork or lamb roasts. Quarter lengthwise 300g each carrots and parsnips. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, a dash of cayenne pepper and a small handful of fresh thyme leaves. Coat vegies with honey mixture and roast for 40–45 minutes, until golden.
This soup is perfect on a cold day. In a large saucepan, sauté 1 chopped onion and 2 crushed garlic cloves until soft. Add 3 finely chopped parsnips, 2 diced potatoes and 4 cups reduced-salt stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, pureé until smooth and stir through 1/2 cup light cream. Garnish with chopped chives.
Did you know? Parsnips are a good source of both potassium and fibre.