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There are many different ways to prepare parsnips, and many people like to steam, bake, saute, or even fry these root vegetables. Regardless of the way you choose to cook your parsnips, it is important to wash and peel them first. If you are looking for a simple preparation method, then you might want to consider steaming and mashing them. This method of cooking parsnips yields a dish that looks similar to mashed potatoes, though it will be sweet and much less starchy. Another easy way to cook parsnips is to bake them in your oven with basil and other herbs that can improve the flavor.
Parsnips are root vegetables that look like carrots, but they are creamy yellow in color. Some people say parsnips also taste like carrots, though parsnips tend to be sweeter. This is especially true if they are harvested after a frost, since freezing weather triggers the conversion of their starches into sugars. Parsnips can typically be found throughout the year, though they do well in cool weather, and many people prefer the sweeter, post-frost parsnips available in the fall and winter. The best way to cook parsnips can depend on how large they are, and you may have to remove the bitter core from especially big ones.
If you are able to find small, tender parsnips, then you may want to consider not cooking them at all. Parsnips are not typically eaten raw, but if they are small enough you can grate them and serve them on salads and as a garnish for other dishes. Larger ones should be cooked though, and there are many different ways to do it. One of the simplest is to prepare a dish that looks similar to mashed potatoes. If you would like to cook parsnips that way, you can steam or blanch them, and then mash them with a fork or put them in a blender.
Another way to use parsnips is to include them in stews and other dishes. If you decide to cook parsnips in this manner, you should consider adding them after the dish has already cooked for a while. When parsnips are placed in soups and stews for the entire cooking time, they tend to become overly soft and mushy. Adding the parsnips later on can allow them to retain some firmness and texture.
There are also a variety of herbs and spices that you may want to use when you cook parsnips. Nutmeg is one spice that can be good in mashed parsnips, since it pairs well with the natural nutty flavor present in these vegetables. Dill, thyme, basil, and tarragon all go well with parsnips too. If you bake your parsnips in the oven, then you may want to consider adding one or more of those herbs.
My grandfather use to grown parsnips in his garden every summer, and they were always a treat to eat. He would boil them and serve them with salt, pepper, and butter. It was a very simple dish, but it was a delicious, summertime treat that we looked forward to eating each year.
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