Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Christine McFadden with students
Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Rhubarb Renaissance
Roasting Chestnuts
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Smashing Pumpkins
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Parsnips Vegetable cookery classes South West

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

The Not-So-Humble Parsnip

I wouldn’t normally consider parsnips in spring but this year is an exception – the weather remains arctic and there are still frosts at night. The good news is that these conditions are ideal for the parsnip, so now is the time to enjoy them before spring vegetables take over.

The parsnip is one of those quietly understated root vegetables, often (too often, in my opinion) described as ‘humble’. Yes, parsnips are commonplace rather than exotic, stalwart certainly, but humble they are not. They’re a cook’s best friend, lending themselves to all kinds of dishes – soups and soufflés, gratins and roasts, chips and crisps, for example.

Parsnips are especially good roasted – the sugars caramelise beautifully, transforming the ivory root into delectable golden batons. Cut your parsnips into even-sized pieces, or leave whole if small. Roast them on their own, or with carrots for contrasting colour, or add them to roast potatoes after about 15 minutes, once the potatoes have got going.

Cut into matchsticks and lightly steamed, young parsnips make a sensational salad, especially partnered with smoked mackerel and slightly bitter leaves. They’re also good raw, sliced paper-thin in a wintry white salad, along with kohlrabi, celeriac and white radish (mooli). Anoint with a lemony yogurt dressing and sprinkle with a shower of snipped chives for a touch of colour.

Also delectable are Parsnip Wisps. They add contrasting crunch to silky smooth soups. Try them with my Roasted Parsnip and Cumin Soup.

Moving on to sweeter things, parsnips excel in cakes and desserts – yes, really! You can steam and mash them for an excellent lemon meringue pie filling. Or think beyond carrot cake and use parsnips instead. Or try them in my recipe for Parsnip and Ginger Cupcakes with Tangerine Drizzle. Their mild sweetness contrasts well with punchy ginger and citrus.

Parsnips are available most of the year but are at their best during the cold months. I prefer to buy mine from a farm shop or traditional greengrocer, caked in mud and freshly dug – they really do taste better. Snap one in half and you immediately get a heavenly whiff of clean fresh sweetness that heralds the flavour to come.


© Christine McFadden, April 2024

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