Ginormous Parsnips

We are a parsnip-eating family and I am always amazed when people say they've never tried one. Or that they once had a bite of one from some soup or other.

This is a vegetable that doesn't get its due.

It should.

Parsnips -- those white-ish, carrot-looking things -- are sweet. Kids and vegetable-haters of all kinds also usually like them (after you convince them to take a bite). 

And there is so much you can do with them. Make "fries." Roast them with garlic and herbs. Glaze them with Chermoula. Use it for soup

Slim parsnips make the best fries or other vegetable side dishes. But these ginormous ones can be woody. It's best to use them for soup or recipes that require longer cooking (and you'll have to remove the hard, inner core. Cut the parsnips in half, crosswise, then cut around the core; discard the core).

This Parsnip and Potato Puree can be dairy or dairy-free. It's a good choice for a vegetarian dinner or Meatless Monday dish. It's also a nice side dish for Thanksgiving dinner because it tastes good with turkey and other poultry.

Parsnip and Potato Puree

  • 1 pound parsnips, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound Yukon gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 McIntosh or other crisp, tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk or unflavored soy milk, rice milk or coconut milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the parsnips and potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the apples, lower the heat, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the parsnips and potatoes are tender. Drain the ingredients and return them to the pan. Add the butter and mash it into the other ingredients. Continue to mash, adding the milk gradually, until the ingredients form a smooth puree. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4–6 servings.


Roasted Chermoula Spiced Parsnips


I realize most people never get to say this but I had some Chermoula Dressing left over from some experimenting with recipes for a Grilled Goat Cheese Panini.  

Chermoula, a Moroccan style sauce made with spices and fresh cilantro, is a condiment that goes with so many foods it actually pays to have some stocked in the fridge. Like ketchup or mustard or Sriracha. 

My latest using the stuff? Roasted Chermoula Spiced Parsnips. Terrific side dish with chicken, lamb or beef. Nice with scrambled eggs too. Or part of a vegetarian dinner.

Roasted Chermoula Spiced Parsnips

Chermoula Dressing:

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, parsley and cilantro in a small bowl. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the olive oil gradually, beating it into the other ingredients. Set aside. (You may use a small food processor to combine the ingredients.)


  • 2 pounds parsnips
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the parsnips and cut them into strips about 4-inches long, 1/2-inch wide and place them on a baking sheet. Pour 1/4 cup of the Chermoula Dressing over the vegetables and toss them to coat each piece. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly crispy.

Makes 6 servings

Carrot and Parsnip Fries


Man and woman does not live by french fries alone, although sometimes that’s all I think I want for dinner.

But french fries aren’t the healthiest thing and besides they can be messy to make if you cook them from scratch.

Long ago I tried to find an alternative because I realized I would never be able to eat as many french fries as I’d like to. Nothing really comes close. I’ve tried the baked fries, but really, they’re awful unless you put a whole lot of olive oil on them and then, what’s the point?

On the other hand, if you don’t use potatoes your expectations aren’t the same. When you make carrot “fries” or green bean “fries” you don’t expect them to taste like regular french fries so you don’t make the comparison in the first place. You can even bake them rather than fry them and it’s okay because your mind is not thinking the usual.

I make carrot and parsnip fries at least once a week. They’re roasted. It’s one of the vegetables that I DOUBLE at dinner because everyone, I mean, everyone who eats dinner at my house, loves these things.

They’re not french fries. But they’re really really good.

Try some. This is from my book, Hip Kosher.

Carrot and Parsnip Fries

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 pound parsnips
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the carrots and parsnips and cut them into strips about 4-inches long, 1/2-inch wide and place them on a baking sheet. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss them to coat each piece. Sprinkle with salt and the optional herbs. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly crispy.

Makes 4 servings

Parsnip Soup with Croutons

If you’ve never tasted a parsnip go out right now and buy some. They’re sweet and easy to cook and useful for an incredible number and variety of recipes. Parsnips, the vegetable that looks like a creamy-white carrot, is at its finest just after the first frost, when the starches turn to sugar. The season is now and for the next couple of months (of course you can get them all year but they’re best now).

I learned to love parsnips because my Mom always stuck one in the pot when she made chicken soup, and it gave the broth a lovely, sweetness. Fanny Farmer was less than charmed by parsnips than I am. In 1906 she wrote, “Parsnips are raised mostly as cattle food.”

Taste for yourself. Here’s a thick and hearty soup to warm you up on colder days. If you’ve never eaten a parsnip this will give you a good first taste. If you have, well, then you already know how good they are and can add this recipe to your collection.

Btw, this is a terrific first course for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Parsnip Soup with Croutons

2 slices homestyle, firm white or whole wheat bread or French bread

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1/2 teaspoon combined dried oregano and thyme (or use mixed dried herbs)

1 clove garlic, mashed

1 large yellow or Spanish onion, chopped

1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced (1/4-inch thick)

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

5 cups vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup half and half cream, whole milk or coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into 3/4-inch dice. Place the bread on a baking sheet and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Melt 2 tablespoons of the olive oil plus one tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the herbs and garlic, then pour this mixture over the lightly toasted croutons. Toss the bread to coat them with the herbed butter mixture. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Heat the remaining one tablespoon olive oil and butter to the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the parsnips, potatoes and stock and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Puree the soup with a hand blender or in a traditional blender or food processor. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream and reheat. Serve the soup topped with the croutons. Makes 6 servings