Pass the Parsnips


Spring is a season replete with surprises. This morning, guest contributor Sara Cabot shares her new knowledge about parsnips' potential for the whole family:

"After a long winter’s silence, I recently received an email from Brian at Hutchins Farm in Concord. Instead of talking about the first asparagus or arugula of the season, to my surprise he mentioned parsnips. I had always thought (wrongly, as I now know) that parsnips were a winter vegetable. According to Brian: “Over-wintered parsnips develop incomparable sweetness and tenderness and are at their absolute best when dug just before they begin to grow again in the spring--here's your opportunity to find out what a parsnip is supposed to taste like.”

I went and tried some, and Brian was right; if you like parsnips, that is. It seems as if Americans nowadays have a bit of a love or loath relationship with this sweet, nutty tasting root vegetable. But the fact is that parsnips - a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C - are a versatile vegetable that can be given to babies and the whole family.
For Baby:

Parsnips are a great secondary vegetable to give after baby has had a few of the first vegetables like peas, carrots, and squash. In fact, parsnips combine well with any of the first veggies and serve to build on your baby’s palate by adding a different taste and texture to what baby already likes.

To cook parsnips for baby, wash and peel 1 large or 3 small parsnips. Cut into ½ inch chunks and add to boiling water. Cook until tender, drain, and then puree in a Cuisinart or food mill.


  • Pea & parsnip puree: after 7 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of frozen peas to the boiling parsnips and cook for 3 more minutes. Drain and puree.
  • Carrot & parsnip puree: chop 1 large or 3 small carrots into ½ inch chunks and add with parsnips to the boiling water. Cook together until tender. Drain and puree.

    For the Whole Family - Roast Parsnips Gratin:

    Because of parsnips’ woody nature, it’s better to parboil them before roasting to prevent them from drying out in the oven.

  • 2 lbs parsnips – scrubbed and quartered (so that they are still long but not so thick)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan (or another dry, strong cheese such as Pecorino), grated.
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., sage, thyme, parsley)

    Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add parsnips and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and leave for a minute until water has evaporated. Melt the butter in a roasting pan and add parsnips, tossing them to coat with butter. Sprinkle on the grated cheese and season with black pepper. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, until cheese is crispy and golden. Garnish with herbs."

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