Although they may look similar, parsnips aren’t just a pale version of the common orange carrot. They are in related vegetable families, but parsnips and carrots can’t cross-pollinate each other. Parsnips have a nutty, spicy flavor that carrots lack, and can be described as having a ‘bite.’ They take longer to mature than carrots, and are generally eaten cooked rather than raw since they are a bit more fibrous than carrots. Although parsnips are often mixed with other root vegetables or with winter squashes in recipes, it’s a worthwhile experience to try them on their own!
Parsnips planted in the spring of one year reach their peak flavor during the spring of the following year. Parsnips, like other cold-hardy plants, produce more sugar when the weather begins to cool. Increased concentrations of sugar in the parsnips’ cells allow the root to withstand frigid winter weather without freezing. Parsnips don’t flower and produce seed until their second year, so for parsnips, being able to lie dormant as a root over the winter is key to their survival. Little do they know that their tactic of hoarding sugar makes them a sweet target for humans to eat.
A half a cup of parsnips has a fifth of your daily Vitamin C needs.
Maple Roasted Parsnips
- 2lbparsnips, peeled and quartered
- 1/3cupolive oil
- 1/2cupmaple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Line a baking dish with non-stick baking paper, or coat lightly in oil.
- Toss parsnips, salt, pepper, and olive oil in the pan until parsnips are well-coated.
- Roast for 30 minutes, remove from oven, and drizzle syrup over parsnips.
- Return to oven and roast another 15-20 minutes until cooked through and golden.