Mar 1st, 2012

Parsnips — I'm a Big Fan

 by Janet Woody, Librarian, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

While cooking some parsnips this weekend, I thought about how nice it is to discover a new food that’s good for you and easy to cook.  Ahh, the lowly parsnip has come into my life.  If parsnips had a Facebook page, I would click on the “Like” button and give them a big thumb’s up.

In the winter I like to cook things I’ve never cooked before.  It’s easy to spend more time in the kitchen when you aren’t needing or preferring to be outside.  Last year I tried turnips.  I don’t want to set off a storm of turnip-lover outrage, but I never felt like singing the praises of turnips.
I was speaking to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden staffer, Brian Vick, recently about the vegetables we grow for Meals on Wheels  and the Central Virginia Foodbank.   Brian is the manager of this garden, which last year grew thousands of pounds of vegetables for FeedMore.  Brian is excited that space for the vegetable garden is expanding and naturally I promoted parsnips for some of that new space. I am happy to say that Brian is on board with adding parsnips to our crop list. Darn, I forgot to ask him about turnips. I’ll have to get back to him on that.
Enjoy some parsnips today!
Janet Woody is the Garden Librarian and is apparently angling for a seat on the National Parsnips Promotion Council.

Bonus recipes!  My super simple recipe:  wash and cut parsnips into chunks.  I don’t peel them but you can if that pleases you. Thick chunks should be halved longways, to reduce cooking time.  Place chunks in steamer and add a little salt and pepper.  Steam till they reach your preferred degree of softness, then eat and enjoy. 

The recipe I plan to try soon is from Cooking Light and includes rosemary, another of my favorite foods:

  • YIELD: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
  • COURSE:          Side Dishes/Vegetables


  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 pounds (2-inch-thick) slices peeled parsnip
  • 1  large red onion, peeled and quartered
  •   Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning twice. Remove parsnip and onion from bag, discarding marinade.

Preheat oven to 500°.

Place parsnip and onion in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 500° for 30 minutes or until the parsnip is tender, stirring often.

About Janet Woody

I am the librarian at Lewis Ginter and like to talk and read about plants. I also enjoying researching Lewis Ginter and our founder Grace Arents. Visit me in the library and we'll talk about plants, or history, or some other fun topic.

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