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What the hell is a parsnip, anyway?

January 22, 2009

(This post appears courtesy of Food Junta.)

Did everybody read the Bunnicula books as a kid? If you didn’t, you should give one a whirl now. The involve a sort of vampire rabbit, an intellectual paranoiac cat, and a couple of dim but well-meaning dogs. Bunnicula roams the house at night and sucks the “blood” from perfectly innocent vegetables. The cat tries to slay him. Hilarity ensues.

All of this to say that a parsnip looks rather like a carrot that Bunnicula has had his way with. See what I mean after the jump.

See? Look like exsanguniated carrots don’t they?

They’re closely related to carrots, but taste sort of like a hybrid between them and turnips. They can be treated as either in cooking. I love parsnips for their sweetness, and I find they’re a great addition to any mix of roast vegetables or tossed in the oven alongside a chicken.

But when all you’ve got is parsnips, they need a little more attention. I’ve always enjoyed a good side of glazed carrots, and the same treatment works well for parsnips.

If you turn your nose up at sweet vegetable dishes, this one isn’t for you, but I happily admit to a sweet tooth, and this is a good recipe to try for kids or folks who are not big vegetable eaters.

And if you do cook them for kids, don’t forget to mention the vampiric rabbit who made the parsnip possible…

Orange Glazed Parsnips
Some parsnips, about a pound
3/4 cup of orange juice
2 tbs. butter
1 tbs. honey
salt and pepper
herbs or spices, if desired

1. Peel and trim parsnips, then chop into roughly equal-sized chunks.

2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add parsnips and cook, stirring, until the edges begin to brown.

3. Add orange juice and honey, turn up heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer parsnips, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is reduced to the consistency of a glaze. (You’ll want to turn down the heat as it reduces to prevent burning.)

4.  As the liquid is reducing add salt and pepper to taste, along with any other seasonings. Sage is an excellent choice, as is rosemary. Cinnamon or nutmeg would also be good, and some India spices like curry or garam masala would be a good way to switch things up.

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