This is where the parsnips come in

Some of the yummy winter goodness I roasted yesterday

Some of the yummy winter goodness I roasted yesterday

…And the winter squash, carrots, rutabagas, and turnips. Yesterday, I roasted a big batch of winter vegetables to take to the birthday party of my good friend Krissy, of Krissy’s Kreations Florist in Vilano Beach. She shares my love of healthy food, so I thought it would be a good bet to bring to the party.

And oh, what a fabulous party it was. Her sweet hubby prepared most of the food; including black bean hummus, tabbouleh, swedish meatballs, fresh veggie spring rolls (with homemade peanut sauce!), a  big warm pot of vegetable soup, a couple of pumpkin pies, among other things. She brought in a guy from St. Augustine’s Wednesday Market to play the steel drums for entertainment (think tropical-I’m-on-vacation-vibe-music), and they built a nice little bonfire in the fire pit outside. All of that, combined with lovely people and conversation made for a really good time.

Whenever I am invited to bring a dish to a party, I always like to bring something with a healthy vibe. I’m quite aware it may not be the most popular item on the buffet, but if just a few people learn what a parsnip is or what butternut squash is, AND decide they actually kind of like it, well, I consider that a win for us nutrition minded folk across the board. Also, roasted vegetables in general are one of the easiest things you can make. I simply chopped up a mixture of peeled parsnips, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, acorn and butternut squash, and some onion, then tossed them all in a little canola oil and sprinkled with my favorite Indian seasoning blend – garam masala. The blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, bay, caraway, and mace goes perfectly with the caramelized sweetness of the root vegetables. I baked for 30 minutes at 435 degrees in the oven and the result was fabulous. If you try to make this yourself, remember to chop the vegetables in similar sized chunks and to try to keep the vegetables in a single layer so they will brown and crisp a little, rather than get mushy.

And if you are wondering what a parsnip even is,  I’ll be happy to give you a little tutorial:

Where/ when are parsnips grown?

Those white carrots in the produce section are not albino carrots, but actually a cousin of the carrot, called the parsnip. They are considered winter vegetables, and they need low soil temperatures to develop their flavor. They are a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons, and are usually harvested after the first hard freeze.  These root vegetables need sandy or loamy soil to grow, since rocky or clay soil causes stunted, split, or odd shaped roots.

Price?

Conventional parsnips range from $1.75 to $3.00 per pound, according to a report by University of Vermont done last year. Organic parsnips can be found with similar or slightly higher prices, especially since they are in season right now.

Is it on the clean 15 or Dirty Dozen?

Not on either list, but best to peel before eating if you buy conventional.

What are some common preparation techniques?

Cook like you would a carrot or potato. There are lots of possibilities: roasted boiled sautéed, steamed, mashed. You can also use as a thickener in soups and casseroles. Or you can just scrub or peel, and enjoy them raw!

Detailed nutrition information:

The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. A 100-g parsnip contains just 75 calories. And parsnips contain a really amazing phytochemical called falcarinol, which, according to this study is a powerful anti-cancer agent. Carrots have falcarinol as well, but parsnips have more!

  • Interesting facts about parsnips:

They used to be very popular before they were replaced by the potato. Their name is a combination between parsley  and turnip, since both plants grow roots similar to parsnips.

A tip for conserving phytonutrient in cooking parsnips: cook the (organic) parnsips BEFORE peeling to prevent falcarinol from leaching out into the cooking water. Always cook vegetables for as little time possible and in as little water possible to conserve nutrients.

Also, if you were considering inviting me to your party, but are worried I will only ever bring vegetables, know this: I also took a few boxes of miniature cream puffs and miniature chocolate eclairs to Krissy’s birthday bash, which all the kids really loved. Just because I enjoy eating healthy doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little junk food with the best of them. I fully believe in eating the foods you WANT to eat, as long as they are eaten in moderation.

What are some of your favorite foods to bring to a party?

 

 

References:

http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/PriceReports/ProducePrices2011-10-10.pdf

http://www.organicauthority.com/vegetables/parsnips.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnip

 

 

 

One response to “This is where the parsnips come in

  1. Wow, I had no idea parsnips were so cool! And funnily enough, I had them for the first time in a while in LA — one of my cousins made an amazing purée of them with just butter and salt. Yummy!

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