Crop Spot: Parsnips

Behold the parsnip!  Parsnips, or Pastinaca sativa, are humble root vegetables closely related to carrots and parsley. These pale roots taste just as sweet as carrots with earthier undertones and are quite versatile! Here’s our quick guide to Parsnips:

In the Medicine Cabinet: 

Not only are parsnips delicious, but they’re also good for you! Here’s some fast facts from Kelly Wilson, our Director of Community Partners and registered Dietitian: 

Per ½ cup serving of cooked slices:

• 3 g fiber – keep you full and regular, stabilizes blood sugar, benefits cholesterol regulation

• Almost 20% vitamin C – beneficial for immune health and soft tissue (gum, connective tissue, cartilage, etc.) integrity

• 10% daily folate – aids in cell growth/metabolism, critical for a healthy pregnancy, 

• 10% daily manganese – regulates amino acid and cholesterol metabolism, antioxidant, speeds wound healing

In your garden: 

They can be tricky to grow! Plant seeds in the spring and use a dark cloth to hold in moisture and aid in germination. Parsnip seeds like germinating in the dark. Harvest in fall or overwinter for a really sweet treat the following spring. Be careful when harvesting as leaves can sometimes cause a rash when contaminated skin is exposed to the sun.

In your kitchen: 

Parsnips are easy to incorporate into your meals! To prepare, wash well, cut off both ends, slice in half lengthwise, then cut those in half lengthwise. Depending on your parsnip, you may want to cut out some or all of the core, which may be a bit woody. 

Favorite ways to eat them: 

• Roasted low and slow for a long time…sugars caramelize and you get a delicious, chewy, roasty/sweet treat

• Mashed with potatoes or rutabagas

• Boiled and pureed with a bit of horseradish to eat with ham

Spatchcocked Chicken & Parsnips 

1 3-4lb chicken 
4 parsnips, washed
1 onion, peeled & sliced into wedges
Olive Oil 
Salt & Pepper 

Preheat oven to 450degrees F. 
To spatchcock the chicken: Flip chicken onto its breast and use sharp, kitchen shears to cut along each side of the back bone (save spine for future stock / gravy making). Flip chicken over, place one hand on its breastbone, then the other and press down (there should be a noticeable crack!). See more instructions and photos here. Pat dry and season all over with salt and pepper. 
Add a tbsp of olive oil to the bottom of a 10in or larger cast iron skillet. Add onion wedges and cut parsnips into finger sized pieces. Add into skillet and add salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place chicken spread-eagled onto the vegetables. Put whole skillet into the preheated oven with legs pointing towards the back left corner. Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken breast after 35-45 minutes. It should be 150 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before serving with the schmaltzy vegetables. 

This recipe is based on this one from The Food Lab Cookbook.

Pro tip: save the bones from this roasted chicken to use in a homemade chicken stock. Add in any raw parsnips you have left over. 

Kelly Wilson, RDN, is the Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference.  Emma Beauchamp is the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. They’re both big fans of parsnips!

Find more great crop spots here.