Parsnips are a winter root vegetable and valued for their long, white root resembling a white carrot. Parsnips have a complex taste; they are sweet like a carrot, but have more starch and an earthy, nut-like flavor. Large roots tend to be more fibrous with a tough woody core, while smaller roots are sweeter and tenderer. Like other root vegetables, parsnips have a lengthy shelf life. To store, trim off any green tops and refrigerate the roots for up to three weeks.
Most of the flavor in parsnips is right below the skin, so it's best just to give them a good scrubbing rather than peel too much of the outer layer. Larger roots may have a woody core, which should be cut out and discarded or saved for stock. Peeled and cut parsnips oxidize when exposed to air (similar to apples), so soak them in water with a little bit of lemon juice if you don't plan to cook them right away. Parsnips can be boiled and mashed like potatoes or pureed into soups. Similar to carrot cake, parsnips also work well shredded and baked into muffins or other quick breads.
Parsnip Muffins (Printable PDF)
2 parsnips, peeled and grated
2 large apples, peeled, cored and grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup granulated sucralose or other artificial sweetener
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
1 (2.25 oz.) package pecan pieces
2 large eggs
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup non-fat milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine parsnips and apples; set aside. In a second large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, sucralose, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins and pecans; set aside.
In a third large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce, milk and vanilla extract. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Add grated parsnip mixture and stir until combined. Mixture will be thick. Divide batter among greased or lined muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool muffins on a wire rack.
Yield: 20 servings (1 muffin each)
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 150 calories, 6 grams fat, 110 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein