How to cook roast parsnips

Roast parsnips are a delicious accompaniment to any roast, and you can 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.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 medium-sized parsnips
  • 3tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper