Parsnips tend to be forgotten because many people don’t really know what they are or how they can use them. They are actually a root vegetable very similar to carrots with a white cream color. As a member of the Apiaceae family, they are related to carrots, parsley, celery, and dill, which display lacy-looking foliage and flowers. It is a biennial, though harvested for its root in the first season.
When harvesting or selecting parsnips, you should go for the smaller, tender ones. The larger a parsnip gets, it develops a woody core that is undesirable. If harvested on the larger side, cut out the center area and use it as normal. To prepare a parsnip, cut off the root and the top tip. Scrub the outside. You can peel the root. However, the best flavor is just under the surface, so it is recommended just to clean it well.
When storing parsnips for extended periods, remove the top, and store unwashed in a cool, dark place. Unlike turnips which parsnips are often confused for, parsnips have a sweet, nutty flavor that sweetens as it is cooked.
How to Cook Parsnips:
Parsnips can be prepared with several cooking methods, including sauteing, baking, roasting, and mashing. You can also incorporate them into mixes as you would carrots. They also work great as an alternative to potatoes as they are lower in carbs while being high in fiber. Because of their white color, many people overlook parsnips as a healthy choice; however they are naturally full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium.