In Defense of Parsnips (with recipe)

 I love an underdog, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I love parsnips. You rarely hear, “Please pass the parsnips” at the Thanksgiving table. You are more likely to hear, “What are those?” from a child wearing an expression of fear and dread. What are parsnips? According to Wikipedia, “The parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to the carrot and parsley. It is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long, tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh; and left in the ground to mature, it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.” Parsnips are oddball vegetables, for sure. I wouldn’t eat one raw and they do have a smell that, shall I say, is unfamiliar to most. But I like oddballs. I gravitate toward people who march to a different drummer. Why should I be different in my choice of vegetables? When I think about who are some of my favorite characters in books, I find they are often the nonconformists, like Ruth in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. Ruth is a drunken poet who loves a duck. She probably loves parsnips. I’ll bet Agatha Raisin, Doc Martin, and Vera are all parsnip fans.  And don’t forget today’s parsnip can be tomorrow’s Brussels sprouts. You do remember Brussels sprouts before roasting them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar made them the new vegetable darlings, don’t you? Even President George H.W. Bush’s declaration about how he hated broccoli ( only managed to gain popularity for it. So as a proud parsnip fan, I will be bringing it to Thanksgiving to share with others who may not have yet fallen for its charms. Here’s my recipe. Try and see if you aren’t corralled into the Parsnip Fan Club.

Michele’s In Defense of Parsnips Recipe Ingredients: Shallots (3 small) diced.Parsnips  (3 bunches or bags, if you must)Butter (2 TBS for sautéing shallots; more to taste to moisten parsnips)Cranberry & Orange Puree (I take ½ cup of the fresh cranberry sauce I make and puree it) Directions Sauté the shallots in two TBS of butter in a saucepan until they are soft and golden. Steam the parsnips until tender. Then puree adding butter to taste. The more the butter, the merrier the parsnips. A dash of cream makes the parsnips velvety. Make sure you’ve invited a cardiologist to your table. Add shallots to parsnips and mix. Place in casserole dish. Top with pats of butter. Then drizzle cranberry orange puree on top to fool and entice skeptics. Warm in 325 degree oven until ready to serve.


  1. Michele, I also love parsnips though I usually use them in soups or a stir fry. Your recipe sounds delicious. I would have to be careful with the butter and cream but once in the while shouldn’t be too dangerous.

    I also love rutabaga, Brussel sprouts, broccoli di rape, cauliflower and broccoli, all the strong tasting veggies.

  2. Your recipe sounds delicious. I would leave out the parsnips and cranberry sauce, and double up on the butter and cream. 😉 Now you’re speaking my language.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

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