Parsnips: The Forgotten Tuber

By Chef Rachel Globensky

So, the weather has sorta cooperated, and the garden has been mostly dug, right? Were you lucky enough to find some uber-sweet, over-wintered parsnips? Lucky you, if you did! Leaving parsnips in the ground during the winter makes them absolutely delicious—the freeze/thaw cycle converts more of their starches to sugars, and oh mama…

Online, or in your grandma’s recipe box, you can find great parsnip recipes: pureed, souped, and glazed. But in our house, roasting wins out every time. Tossing the parsnip batonnettes in a little oil, some seasonings (and just a little sweetness if you’d like), and baking them in the oven results in a super-sweet veggie disguised as a French fry! My six year old, who devours broccoli and cauliflower, will eat plain parsnip fries with a little disdain, but if she’s allowed to dredge them in a metric tonne of shredded Parmesan cheese beforehand, she’ll inhale them. Weird.

So, here’s an easy weekday treat for you. Go ahead and try the Parmesan—I’m partial to spicy mayo, so I’ve included that, too!

Parsnip “Fries” with Spicy Mayo (or a metric tonne of Parmesan)
Serves 4 or so, depending on how hungry you are, and how much your dining companions like parsnips and spicy stuff

Fries
2 ½ lbs parsnips or carrots, peeled, cut into about 3 x ½” strips
Technically, batonnettes are thick veggie matchsticks, approximately 3” long by ¼” thick—this is a good size that holds up well for roasting. Don’t worry so much about precision sizing—just slice your parsnips evenly, or use a mandoline (use the guard!).
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ tsp-ish ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar (optional)

Toss the parsnips with the seasonings, and fan out in a single layer on oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes; carefully turn fries over and bake 10-15 minutes longer, until some golden spots appear on them. Cooking time will definitely depend on how large your parsnip pieces are to start.

Mayo
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 tsp your favourite hot sauce (if you like the heat!)
Mix all of this together, just after you put the fries in the oven. The longer it sits, the better it is. Dip your parsnip fries in the spicy goodness, and if there’s any left over, you can use it on your sandwich the next day!