Our organic parsnips from Toos in Cuckfield..over the back of the Sussex Downs, are really sweet and not at all fibrous. Nick is a massive fan and loves this time of year when the van smells rooty and aromatic (honestly, ask him when you see him and he might get a bit poetic about it).
The parsnips are growing all shape and sizes. But the smaller parsnips don’t need to be peeled as their skin is quite delicate.
Not everyone’s cup of tea but given that they are so versatile, there is room for them in all meals – for flavour or to lighten or moisten a cake* (which even parsnip-haters have enjoyed, by the way). They seem to be peculiarly British as well – as you don’t find them cropping up in many European recipes and one American blog I read, had a description of what a parsnip is – so clearly not a favourite in US cuisine. Surprising, as are their caramel flavour and slight chewiness works like a dream with so many other flavours and textures.
Using and storing
Use instead of potato in hash browns – especially nice in a veggie breakfast as they add a new taste dimension.
In the fridge, they will keep for around a week – although to get the best from them, it’s best to eat within around 3 days..particularly as they are biodynamic and organic.
You could also try Catherine Berwick’s Parsnip and Maple Syrup cake*, which is absolutely a joy to eat.
Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake
- 175g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 250g demerara sugar
- 100ml maple syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 250g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 250g parsnips, peeled and grated
- 1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
- 50g pecans, roughly chopped
- zest and juice 1 small orange
- icing sugar, to serve
For the filling
- 250g tub mascarpone
- 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into this mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice. Divide between the tins, then bake for 25-30 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly
- Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.
A smooth, buttery, peppery purée is a very simple but very lovely way of serving parsnips with almost any meat or fish. This is a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe – and he recommends adding peeled, cored wedges of dessert apple to the mix.
Serves three to four.
- About 500g parsnips
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 30g butter
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp chopped thyme (optional)
Peel the parsnips, quarter them lengthways and remove any tough, woody core. Cut the parsnips into large chunks and put them in a pan with enough cold water just to cover them, plus some salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until completely tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
Transfer the parsnips to a blender (or use a stick blender) with the butter, cream, thyme (if using) and a generous few twists of pepper. Process to a thick puree – add a splash of cooking water to loosen it, if you like, but it’s best when thick enough to hold its shape. Check the seasoning and serve straight away.