Favourite ingredient of the stars, Jamie Oliver fries sliced parsnips with pancetta and tosses them into pasta, Nigel Slater enjoys them in “lovely soft, sweet gratins” and Masterchef’s John Torode makes them into bhajis.
Parsnips, the carrot’s pale cousin, are one of the tastiest and most versatile root vegetables. The perfect ingredient for everything from curry to the classic Sunday roast, their sweet, starchy flesh can add a warm, comforting element to dishes, marrying beautifully with honey for roasting or spices in soups. They are also fantastic raw, sliced similarly to fennel to give a satisfying crunch and delicious flavour dimension to the most simple of salads.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 25-30 mins Serves 4
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp mustard powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 Preheat the oven in 220oC (Fan 200oc) Gas Mark 7. Place a large roasting tin in the oven to heat up.
2 Peel the parsnips, then cut them into evenly sized chunky chips about 2cm in diameter. Place them in a large pan, cover with water add the salt and bring to the boil.
3 Let them boil for 2 mins, then remove from the heat and drain. Return to the pan and add the oil and toss to coat. Shake the flour, mustard, pepper over the parsnips, then stir until evenly coated.
4 Remove the hot roasting tin from the oven, tip in the parsnips and shake so that the chips are in a single layer. Roast for 25-30 mins, turning the chips half way through the cooking time until they are golden and crisp. Serve straight away sprinkled with a little salt if liked.
There’s no need to peel parsnips for this recipe, give them a good wash and chop them up for a quick and easy soup the whole family will love.
Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 25-30 mins Serves 4-6
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2cm piece root ginger, peeled and chopped
1.2ltr (2pts) vegetable stock
3 tbsp crème fraîche
to serve: chopped parsley and a little ground paprika
1 Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and sauté for 3-4mins or until pale golden. Meanwhile, wash the parsnips, trim the ends and chop them into even sized chunks.
2 Add the parsnips to the pan along with the garlic and ginger, sauté for 2 mins, stirring. Pour in the stock and a little seasoning. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins or until the parsnips are tender.
3 Use a stick blender to puree the soup until its nice and smooth. Add the crème fraîche and taste for seasoning. Serve hot in bowls, sprinkled with a little parsley or paprika if liked.
Lancashire cheese has a lovely mild flavour and a good salty, savoury edge which goes well with the sweet flavour of the parsnips and thyme. It comes in two varieties, creamy or crumbly – crumbly works best in this recipe. You could replace it with grated mild cheddar if you prefer.
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 55mins – 1hr 5mins Serves 6
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
750g parsnips, peeled and trimmed
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
150g Lancashire cheese, crumbled
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250ml hot vegetable stock
1 Preheat the oven to 220oC (Fan 200oc) Gas Mark 7. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and sauté over a medium heat for 5 mins or until golden. Season, then reduce the heat and cook over a low heat for a further 5 mins until they are really tender and caramelised.
2 Whilst the onions cook, diagonally slice the parsnips to a thickness of a one pound coin. Lightly oil a 1.4 (21/2pt) ovenproof dish.
3 Scatter half the onions over the base of the dish and top with half the parsnips, half the thyme, a third of the cheese, a little nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Top with the remaining onions and parsnips, then pour over the stock. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and season again.
4 Place the dish on a baking tray then cover and bake for 30mins. Remove the foil then bake for a further 20-25mins or until the parsnips are tender and the top nicely browned. Serve hot with roast meats or poultry.
See here how some of Britain’s top chefs suggest using parsnips:
Delia Smith – Parmesan baked parsnips
Delia Smith – Curried parsnip and apple soup with parsnip crisps
Delia Smith – Cheese and parsnip roulade with sage and onion stuffing
Delia Smith – Parsnips with a mustard and maple glaze
Jamie Oliver – Roast potatoes parsnips carrots
Nigella Lawson – Potato parsnip and porcini gratin
Independent.co.uk – Parsnip and hazelnut croquettes