Learn how to roast and cook parsnips the right way with our simple recipe. Sweet sticky roasted parsnips are one of the joys of a roast dinner but they can be cooked in many other ways too. Their natural sweetness, soft texture and nutty flavour makes them very versatile and flavoursome for soups, mash, casseroles and bakes as well as for roasting.
In season from September to March it is said that the best flavoured parsnips are those that have been left in the ground until after the first frosts. Choose small to medium-sized parsnips,if possible, as large ones tend to be tough and fibrous in the middle.
Generally you can cook parsnips just as you would potatoes, peel (or just scrub baby ones), halve, quarter or cut into chunks and then boil, roast or mash. Using a mixture of half potatoes and half parsnips in many dishes works really well too, particularly mash. Classic potato dishes such as Potato Dauphinoise, thinly sliced potatoes layered and baked with garlic and cream and topped with Gruyere cheese is delicious made with parsnips. Rosti cakes using par-boiled coarsely grated parsnips instead of potatoes is a winner too.
Parsnips go well with most foods, particularly roast meat, sausages and game. To balance their sweetness, cook them with spices such as fresh chilli, harissa paste or curry paste – this works well for roasting and for soups. To enhance their sweetness, coat them in honey and mustard which will caramelise during roasting for extra stickiness. And for added richness and smoothness mash with butter, cream and black pepper for a luxury cottage pie topping.
Honey roast parsnips
Prepare and roast the parsnips as above. After 25 mins cooking time drizzle over 1tbsp runny honey. Cook for a further 10 mins, turning once, until golden, sticky and tender.
Curried parsnip chips
Peel and cut 4 medium parsnips into 1cm wide sticks. Cook in boiling salted water for 2 mins then drain well and dry on kitchen paper. Heat a knob of butter and 2tbsp sunflower oil in a large frying pan. Add 1-2tsp curry powder and the parsnips and fry for 5-6 mins until golden and tender.
Peel and cut 1 parsnip very very thinly on a mandolin or using a vegetable peeler . Heat about 1cm vegetable oil in a large frying pan until hot enough to sizzle when a small piece of parsnip is added. Fry the parsnips until golden brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with sea salt.
Parmesan crusted parsnips
Peel and quarter 4 parsnips, par-boil in boiling salted water for 2-3 mins then drain well. Mix 2tbsp semolina or polenta with 50g freshly grated Parmesan and a pinch of English mustard powder. Roll the parsnips in the cheese mixture then place in a baking tray and drizzle with a little vegetable oil. Roast as in Step 2 for about 20 mins or until golden and tender.