The February Vegetable of the Month is Parsnip!
Parsnips can be used much like any root vegetable (think carrots and potatoes). They actually look a lot like creamy colored carrots, but they do taste a little different. Parsnips have a naturally sweet, nutty, and peppery flavor—and they smell more like celery. You can cook them in lots of different ways, add them to soups, casseroles, or prepare as an easy side dish kids will love. If you’re ready to experiment with parsnips, a good rule of thumb is to use them the same way you would normally prepare potatoes or carrots.
A Parsnip is a Great Source of:
- Manganese—great for healthy bones.
- Vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant for your immune system.
- Vitamin K—known to help decrease the risk of certain cancers.
- Vitamin B9—can help with mental and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.
Did You Know?
- Parsnips were used as a sweetening agent before cane sugar became a major import.
- Like potatoes, parsnips can be stored for long periods of time—making them a handy go-to pantry item.
- They naturally increase your ability to produce serotonin—which is known as the “happy” hormone.
- Parsnips have powerful anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and antifungal qualities.
- They are packed with different minerals and vitamins—perfect if you are looking for nutrient-rich foods to add to your diet.
- In Britain and Ireland, parsnips are used to make beer and wine.
How to Harvest and Store Parsnips
Consider adding parsnips to your vegetable garden mix. Pick when firm and dry. If you wait to harvest after the parsnips have been in the cold (after the first frost) for 2-4 weeks, the flavor will be sweeter. Store in the refrigerator in an unsealed bag for 3+ weeks.
If a raw parsnip becomes soft and squishy, this is a sign of rot and it should no longer be eaten. For better flavor, cook the parsnip with the skin on—after cooking, you have the option to eat the skin or not!
Tips to Get Children to Eat Parsnips
- Cook and mash, then mix with potatoes for an extra flavorful mashed potato and parsnip blend
- Cut into sticks, and fry or roast as french fries
- Chop and blend in your preferred soup or stew
Ways to Eat Parsnips
Let’s Get Cooking
Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes
- 2 cups parsnips
- 3 medium potatoes (1 pound)
- ½ cup low-fat milk
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Scrub parsnips and potatoes under running water and peel
- Cut into similar sized pieces
- In a medium saucepan, cover the vegetable pieces with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft, 15–20 minutes.
- Drain the vegetables and mash.
- Stir in milk, salt, garlic powder, and butter.
- Serve hot and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours
Harvest Vegetable Salad
- 2 cups romaine lettuce (washed)
- 1 cup cilantro (washed)
- 1 cup parsnips (peeled)
- 1 cup carrot (peeled)
- 1 cup turnips (peeled)
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ tsp lime zest (grated)
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Combine romaine lettuce and cilantro, and divide on four plates
- Place parsnips, carrots, and turnips into 1 quart of boiling water. Return water to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
- Strain the water and vegetable mixture in a colander
- Mix the ingredients for the dressing right before serving
- Place hot vegetables on top of the greens and top with the dressing
For more creative parsnip-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Parsnip Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable blend, and a Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Potato, and Chicken dish, you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!
Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!