Parsnips, meet everybody. Everybody, say “Hi, parsnips.”

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“Hi, parsnips.”

Let me tell you a little bit about my little friend, here.

How do they taste?

A raw parsnip tastes like a cross between a carrot and a potato, and smell a little bit like fresh parsley. There’s a hint of sweet to it when raw, but there’s also a comparable bitterness, thanks to the skin.

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How do I choose good ones?

Look for firmness, bright color and . You want to avoid parsnips with soft, mushy parts to them. Parsnips tend to have woody tops; you don’t want to choose one where the top looks molded instead of tree-like.

If your parsnip has roots growing off the sides and bottom, don’t be afraid. They’re just roots. It is a root vegetable, after all. You can cut them off, and go right back to work.

As an aside, if a parsnip you’ve purchased starts to soften in some spots, you can just cut that chunk off/out, and eat the unsoftened parts.

How do I store them after I’ve bought them?

Parsnips – like most vegetables – shouldn’t be cleaned before they’re cooked. Since they’re root veggies, they don’t require refrigeration. Once you do wash them, go right into cooking

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What goes well with parsnips?

Most root vegetables are interchangeable. So, just like you can make potato chips, french fries, home fries, hash browns, potatoes au gratin, roasting potatoes under your chicken and the like… you can do the same for parsnips.

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Pomegranate, parsnip and parsley quinoa.

You can also grate them – like above – and use them in your salad, paired with a nice fruit. Something like pomegranates or oranges. The sweet in the juicy fruit would cut the inherent bitterness in raw parsnips… or maybe you like that sort of thing. Hey. Do your thing.

Can you get rid of that outer skin? Of course. A regular-grade vegetable peeler will do the trick. Take your parsnip by the tip, stand it up on its root, tilt it diagonally, and then quickly scrape off the skin with your peeler in short strokes. This way, you don’t break your peeler and also don’t cut your fingers.

How do I cook these parsnips I bought for the boot camp?

A quick and simple way to do it, for now, is to simply par-cook them.

Cast Iron Parsnips

Cast Iron Parsnips

Chop three parsnips thinly, and heat up your skillet. Place a cup of water in your skillet, and bring it to a boil on medium-high heat. Bite one of your raw parsnip slices. You’ll need to use this for a gauge.

Drop your parsnips into the boiling water. They should not be covered in water. You’re only using the water to soften them up, not to cook them through. The steam from the water makes them easier to chew, and helps boil out some of the bitterness. Add a pinch of salt, and a quarter-teaspoon of black pepper across the entire skillet. Cover your skillet with a lid.

Check on it every minute or so, to make sure that your water hasn’t burned out yet. Bite your parsnip: is it still hardened? If so, then you may want to add water, in 1/4 cup increments, to let the steam cook the parsnips through. Has it softened? Yes? Please proceed, governor.

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Once the water has boiled out and your parsnips have softened a bit – you don’t want them to be soggy, but you want them to at least soften more towards that core than anything else – you’ll add in about two tablespoons of organic canola oil, and stir continuously.

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Here, you’ll add a teaspoon of rosemary (in the photographs, I use dried rosemary, not ground; for ground rosemary, I’d say you might use a half-teaspoon), and keep stirring your parsnip slices. You want to toss them every minute or two, so that they have some time to brown on the outside, but also have more time to cook towards the center.

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When they look like this, take them off the heat and add a very generous pinch of parsley to the skillet, and toss.

Cast Iron Parsnips

Cast Iron Parsnips

Taste your parsnips. Could they benefit from another pinch of salt? If so, go for it. If not, scratch it.

Notice the lack of parsnips in this picture in comparison to the picture above it. I may or may not have done some extra taste testing.

What’s your favorite way to have parsnips? Any recipes to share?