- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The parsnip may be one of the most underappreciated and misunderstood root vegetables, right next to the rutabaga and the turnip.

Parsnips are every bit as versatile as their orange cousin, the carrot, and add a distinctive flavor note. Think of them as a flavor accent. Throw them in a pot of chicken or vegetable soup, puree them with potatoes with a bit of cream and a hint of caraway, or roast them to resemble oven-roasted fries. They will all delight.

Roasting parsnips on a shallow, uncovered baking sheet shows them at their best - crisped on the outside with a creamy sweet interior. Parsnips have a high sugar content, which is coaxed out of them. To prevent the sugars from burning on the baking sheet, line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper.

In “Simply Organic,” author Jesse Ziff Cool offers easy and highly flavorful dishes that rely on organic produce. Ms. Cool likes to roast root vegetables, and parsnips are among her favorites. In the recipe below, adapted from Ms. Cool, you’ll notice that the vegetables are put in the oven at 375 degrees, which ensures that they will roast without burning. If you are serving this with other strong-flavored dishes, just omit the oregano and substitute with fresh chopped parsley. Serve these with roast chicken, turkey or lamb.

Roasted parsnips

Makes 6 servings.

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks

2 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the parsnips and leeks in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to coat well. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender and lightly browned.


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