In Season: Parsnips, Fall Through Spring

If it looks like a carrot, but tastes sweeter and nutty, chances are the vegetable that you are looking at is a parsnip. In this country we tend to ignore the humble parsnip, but around this time of year, when I’m searching for something local, and in season, I know that I can always count on the parsnip.

A member of the umbelliferae family, whose siblings are those crunchy aromatics, the carrot, celery, fennel, and celery root, parsnips have an exceptionally long growing season, and are well-cellared. Once planted, parsnips take months to mature, but then will keep growing long past the first frosts.

Sometimes you will see enormous parsnips at the market, parsnips on steroids is what I like to call them. While perfectly edible, these giants can get a little woody, and will not be as flavorful as their youthful brethren. Parsnips can be eaten in a variety of delicious ways: steamed, sautéed, roasted, or mashed. In this recipe, I simply brown them in a hot skillet in butter and olive oil. This gives them a beautiful golden brown color, while crisping them to a delicate crunch.

Browned Parsnips

1 pound thin parsnips, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
¼ cup flour
¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil peeled parsnips for 5-7 minutes, or until barely fork tender. Drain, and set aside.

On a plate, mix flour, breadcrumbs, slat and pepper together. Gently roll each parsnip in dredging mixture. Parsnips should be lightly coated.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. When foam has subsided, place each parsnip, in a single layer, cut side down, in the skillet. Fry until parsnips are golden brown on cut side, about 3-5 minutes. Flip parsnips over, and continue to fry, until brown and cooked through, another 3 minutes.

Remove from the skillet, drain briefly on a paper towel, and then serve immediately.

 

Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog, nosheteria.com.

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