Parsnips are a versatile winter vegetable well-suited to soups, stews and root purees. While they resemble a paler version of carrots, parsnips have a funky flavour that taste like mild turnip crossed with sweet carrot.

How to buy

Look for pale yellow or ivory-coloured parsnips that are firm and straight. The wide top should narrow smoothly to a slender tip, just like a carrot. Avoid ones that are shrivelled and twisted-they’re difficult to peel, so you’ll lose too much of the good stuff. Small parsnips, about 8-inches (20-cm) long, are much sweeter than larger ones, which tend to have a tough, woody and bitter-tasting core.

How to store

Fresh parsnips will keep well for three to four weeks if wrapped in paper towel and stored in a veggie bag. They tend to lose moisture when exposed to air. Cooked parsnips (sliced or pureed) will keep well, frozen, for up to one month.

How to prepare

Before cooking, peel and slice into rounds, chunks or matchstick-size pieces. If parsnips are thick at the top end, slice in half for even cooking. If using large or old parsnips, slice in half first, then cut out the tough core.

A quick dip in boiling water or oven roasting is the best way to cook parsnips. Boil in a large pot of salted water, just until tender. Avoid overcooking or you’ll lose precious nutrients-plus, they taste sweeter when just cooked. Toss with a little olive oil, honey and minced garlic, then spread out on a baking sheet and roast until glazed and tender.

Experiment with parsnips and don’t be afraid to use them in a variety of dishes. Try them in carrot or squash soups, beef, lamb or chicken stews and mashed potatoes.

Parsnips recipes
·Carrot-and-parsnip au gratin
·Festive Riviera parsnips
·Farmer’s market soup
·Roasted vegetable medley

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