Happy November! It's the beginning of the month, which means it's also time for a new SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient reveal!
Your posts last month all made such great use of cranberries. Here are a few highlights that Ricki and I particularly enjoyed:
This month's featured ingredient is one that Kim and I both adore. Although they're a bit of a paleface compared to many other antioxidant-rich vegetables, they offer lots of great nutritional value as well as deep, succulent flavor. They may at first appear like off-white carrots, but this month's veggie offers its own unique, healthy and delicious properties. We're talking about--
What Are Parsnips?
They may look like albino carrots, but the gnarly parsnip, native to Asia and Europe, provides many health benefits. One of the less-lauded root veggies, parsnips appear to be paler carrots with somewhat bumpy exteriors and a light yellow or off-white flesh inside. Their flavor has been described as alternately nutty, sweet, or peppery; I also find them somewhat earthy. Because of their high starch content, they brown and caramelize well when roasted, releasing natural sugars for a mild, sweet flavor.
Known as a biannual plant, the flowers blossom from June until August, though only the roots are consumed (unlike carrots, the tops of which can be eaten). [source] Interestingly, parsnips aren't grown in warmer climates because they require frost to develop their flavor (one reason they're so abundant where Kim and I live, I guess!) ;) [source]
Health Benefits of Parsnips
While parsnips are a white root vegetable like potatoes, there are some significant differences between the two. Parsnips contain lower levels of protein and vitamin C than spuds, but they do provide more fiber. And parsnips contain a host of nutrients, offering an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, pantothenic acid, copper, and manganese. They also contain good amounts of niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium. [source]
In fact, some sources suggest that parsnips can be used to help regulate bowel movements and to keep the liver healthy. [source]
Choosing and Cooking Parsnips
When choosing your parsnip, look for cream or lightly tan exteriors, with a skin as smooth as possible. The smaller roots are the more tender ones; the larger roots tend to become woody.
Parsnips should be peeled unless they’re organic (in which case, wash well and scrub away any visible dirt before cutting and cooking). Some sources suggest that parsnips should never be eaten raw, but this is a fallacy; it's just fine to eat them that way! Use them to replace some or all of your potatoes in a mash; chop or grate and include in soups, stews or pasta sauces; roast on their own or in root vegetable fries; or mix up with your favorite carrot cake recipe, substituting parsnips for some or all of the carrot. The possibilites are endless!
Now, it's time for you to show us what YOU can do with parsnips! You have until the end of the month to link up your favorite parsnip-based recipes.
How to Participate in the SOS Kitchen Challenge
To participate, please adhere to the following guidelines. We hate to remove entries, so PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP!
You may enter as many times as you like, but please submit a separate entry for each recipe, and submit only one entry per blog post.
If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate! Simply email your recipe, or recipe and a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post it for you.
For all the details (and to view past challenges), check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge page. Deadline for submission is Wednesday, November 30, 2011.Kim and I look forward to seeing all your culinary creations using parsnips! :D
November 2011 SOS Kitchen Challenge: Parsnips