Parsnips will never win a beauty prize. They’ll never even place runner-up. And sadly, all too often they get passed up for a prettier-looking vegetable. Root vegetables have it rough, I tell ya.
Even Andrew wrinkled his nose in disappointment after finding out that I was planning on roasting parsnips for supper. “Wasn’t there anything else at the farmers’ market,” he grumbled.
Well, actually, no there wasn’t much more at my local market a few weeks ago, nor has the situation improved much last week. Which is why I kicked off my bimonthly “The Farm Stand” column over at Prospect Heights Patch, with something as homely and humble as a parsnip.
In fact, until about end of April, there’ll be a dearth of truly exciting “spring” produce at the market. Spring may be in the air, but the harvest certainly will make us wait to allow us to feel the seasonal shift on our plates.
But modest looks aside, this root vegetable is anything but boring. Roast it with a little citrus juice, honey and a couple of spices, and watch the parsnips come alive. Where they lose in appearances, they make up for in substance and taste.
Toothsome, almost nutty, and hearty – they taste of the promise of warmth amidst the March chill.
I made these parsnips as a side dish for my friend Anya’s birthday supper I was cooking one Sunday night. Most of my friends are now married with children, so when they come to dinner, their toddlers come with them, bringing their own tastes along.
And while two-year olds are notorious for eating only a handful of things, Anya’s toddler just adored the parsnips, hungrily shoving pieces in her mouth. When she finished what was on her little plate, she reached for seconds.
Anya and her husband weren’t too far behind. And then I looked over, and Andrew was happily chewing along – I managed to change his mind on parsnips after all.
Perhaps I can change a few others – I’m feeling hopeful.
Roasted Parsnips with Honey and Cumin
3-4 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins (for wide pieces, feel free to half or quarter them)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons mild honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the orange and lemon juices, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt. Let stand for a minute or two before whisking in the oil.
3. Place parsnips in an oven-proof dish and pour the citrus-honey dressing over them. Mix well to combine. Cook for 45-50 minutes, basting from time to time, until the parsnips are golden and fork-tender. Serve immediately, with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, if desired.