“Parsnips,” Chef Jamie Simpson from the Culinary Vegetable Institute explains, “may be even more versatile than potatoes because their sugar content allows them to caramelize well—and they also have flavorful raw applications. That’s why I call them the king of the kitchen.”
Other cooking methods include to blanch them like a carrot or to slice them thinly and then fry them until crispy to make parsnip chips. “They brown very easily,” Jamie warns, “so watch them closely.”
To make a delicious parsnip puree, you can dice them; brown them in a pan; cover them in stock or dairy; cook the ingredients; and then blend until smooth. “You can make a cannoli from fried parsnip skins,” Jamie says, “and then fill them with this puree. Parsnip seeds have a super intense flavor, so you can use some of them, as well.”
Or you can split the parsnips, blanch them, and then put them on the grill. “They have just the right shape and moisture content for grilling.”
In a hurry? “Parsnips can have a beautiful floral flavor when raw,” Jamie says, “and I love that.”
Here are a couple of parsnip recipes to get your started:
In the first recipe, parsnips are front and center. With the second, they add a delicious flavor to a tasty soup—and parsnips can also be a wonderful ingredient in vegetable stock.
Health Benefits of Parsnips
Amy Sapola, Director of Health and Wellness at The Chef's Garden, highlights a few of the health benefits of parsnips.
First, Americans, on average, do not get anywhere near enough fiber, consuming 10-17 grams daily. The Institute of Medicine, meanwhile, has established the adequate intake (AI) to consume as twenty-five daily grams for women and thirty-eight for men. Parsnips are a good source of fiber, containing about 5.6 grams of fiber per cup of cooked (boiled) parsnips.
“Remember,” Amy adds, “that adequate does not mean optimal.”
Plus, 90% of the United States population does not meet the adequate intake for choline. Choline has many essential functions in the body, including to build healthy cell membranes and donate methyl groups for metabolism, and helping to produce acetylcholine, which influences memory, mood, and muscle control. Choline is especially important during pregnancy and cooked parsnips contain 42 mg of choline per cup.
Here’s another health benefit. Parsnips contain 570 mg of potassium per cup when cooked, and a higher potassium intake may help to lower blood pressure, especially in salt-sensitive people. Nearly one third of Americans have high blood pressure, so getting enough potassium is key.
Regeneratively Farmed Parsnips
At The Chef’s Garden, we regeneratively farm for healthy soil, healthy crops, healthy people, and a healthy planet. Using this approach, we grow crops that have more minerals than the USDA baseline while also providing you and your family with fresh vegetables that are bursting with flavor, delivered to your front door.
In season, you may find parsnips in your vegetable boxes.