Thursday, 1 January 2015

Ode to a Parsnip

I have a new favourite vegetable. Move over tender-stem broccoli. Step aside curly kale. Make room for the humble parsnip.

I used to think I *hated* parsnips. They are such a British thing with people going on and on about how lovely they are along side their roast dinners. So I consulted Doctor Google and found a recipe for curried bramley apple and parsnip soup. It sounds good doesn’t it? We bought some really large parsnips from the market and tried it.

Blech………it was so gross we poured the whole soup down the sink and went out and bought chips from the chippy. Seriously. This has become a famous story that is guaranteed to make British people laugh.

But recently, we met some friends at the local vegetarian café for a “Christmas dinner” special. You got nutroast, gravy, roast potatoes and caramelised parsnips and carrots.

Oh….my….days. They were good. So good. Indescribably good. But they only gave you a few.

I wanted more. I went on a mission. I really read upon the parsnip and discovered a few things.
1) the younger and smaller they are the sweeter they are

2) the older and bigger they are means they can contain a woody core that is unpleasant to eat. Aha! This is where we went wrong with the parsnip soup! I forgot to cut out the woody core!

I also learned how to make them like we ate them at the Waverly Café. Heat your oven to 220C/425F and preheat your pan. Slice your parsnips and carrots into baton shapes (cutting out the woody core if necessary and then add 1 Tablespoon of oil and pour veg into the hot pan (hear that sizzle!) and roast in a hot oven until brown and caramelised (20-25 minutes stirring half way) and then drizzle on a tablespoon of maple syrup and cook for 2 minutes longer. Don’t overcrowd the pan or they’ll steam and not brown.


As you saw we had them twice recently and are having them again this week. I cannot stop thinking about them.

So here are some facts about the humble parsnip.

It is a root vegetable related to the carrot and parsley.

It was used a sweetener before the arrival of cane sugar in Europe.

It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium.

The leaves and foliage can cause a skin rash similar to poison ivy.

  One night I could not stop dreaming about them and in my sleep composed a song to show my love of the parsnip. So here it is.

To the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (AKA the hymn Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee) 

Parsnip, parsnip you’re so lovely

Like a carrot only white.

You taste so delicious roasted

I could eat you every night.

Humble parsnip

How I love you

You’re so healthy

And so sweet.

Potassium just like bananas

And vitamins B and C.

So there it is. How sweet.


  1. Heather, you're a queer kid.

  2. and yes, everyone who reads this will be singing along as they read the words to your Ode to Parsnips. (except Sweetie, of course,)

  3. I just read this again after a four year break and I laughed all over again. Of course I sang along. And Sweetie would be rolling her eyes clear back in her head.