Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Roasted Parsnips GF

Parsnips are one of my favourite vegetables. We considered these sweet and slightly knobbly root vegetables to be an enormous treat when I was growing up but they were rarely roasted in the oven. They were fried in the chip pan instead. But I didn't realise until just recently that they aren't anywhere near as popular outside of Europe.

Parsnips are an off-white, ivory coloured, starchy root vegetable and were a staple in Europe and North America until potatoes became much more popular in the 19th Century. A good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium, there are several methods of preparing them - eaten grated raw in salads, boiled and mashed, added to stews, made into fritters and, my favourite, roasted.

Parsnips (on the right in the picture above) taste nicer when harvested after the frosts since the cold actually improves the sweetness and flavour. In fact, in the UK, parsnips are always at their very best in January and February. Although they are available to buy all year round, in the Summer months they don't tend to soften and can be quite woody! When choosing parsnips try to pick ones which are firm, light coloured and heavy for their size. Despite opinion which states that the small parsnips are sweeter than the larger sized ones, I have eaten many large parsnips that have been just as soft and sweet as smaller ones.

Roasted Parsnips GF

  • I usually allow at least one large parsnip per person.
  • Set the oven to  190°C.
  • Peel the parsnips and slice into chunky pieces, evenly sized. Try not to make the ends too thin or they will burn before the rest of the piece is cooked.
  • Tip into a roasting pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then shake the pan to distribute the oil or prior to adding to the roasting pan, tip the chopped parsnips into a freezer bag, add the oil and shake well, by doing this you can cut down on the amount of oil you use. 
  • Roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden and soft.