Sunday, August 21, 2011


I’m feeling bad for parsnips. Parsnips are America’s least favorite vegetable. I don’t detest parsnips, but truthfully I haven’t paid much attention to them and don’t think they’ve ever been on my shopping list. So now I feel like I’m part of the problem. Parsnips aren’t pretty; they’re not the sexy darlings of trend-setting foodies; they’re just lowly root vegetables.

This information about the popularity of vegetables came out in a poll by Consumer Reports this year. Here’s a summary of the vegetables American like and dislike.

The most popular vegetables were:
§          lettuce
§          tomatoes
§          carrots
§          potatoes (not sweet potatoes)
§          broccoli
§          corn
§          peppers

By contrast, the least popular vegetables were:
§          parsnips
§          Swiss chard
§          bok choy
§          turnips and rutabagas
§          artichokes
§          eggplant
§          okra

Parsnips were the biggest loser—87 percent said they rarely or never ate them. Parsnips lost out to okra? I thought the slime factor would have put okra at the top of the least popular list. I've cooked with everything else on the unpopular list, and lest you think I'm prejudiced against unattractive root vegetables, I must confess that I'm a bit of a rutabaga fanatic. I guess I just don’t understand my fellow countrymen and their vegetable preferences. Frankly, I thought potatoes would be on the top of the popular list. Isn’t this the supersized nation that eats a ton of French fries per capita each year?

I’m trying to do my part to rescue the humble parsnip from the top of the hated vegetable list. So I found a recipe for a parsnip side dish that sounds delish. Please note that I haven’t made this dish yet, but I’m going to look for parsnips at the farmers market and try it. Soon, I promise. (I have not been compensated by the National Parsnip Advisory Board for this product endorsement.)

Sauteed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary
(source Bon Appetit, November 2007)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into 3¼ by ¼ inch pieces
1 pound large parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, cut into 3¼ by ¼ inch pieces
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)
3 ounces sliced pancetta (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. 

Optional: To add richness, sauté three ounces sliced pancetta until crisp; crumble over before serving.

NOTE: Carrots can take a bit longer to cook than parsnips, so if the carrots are large and mature, sauté them for a minute or two to soften slightly before adding the parsnips.

1 comment:

  1. parsnips are much better than swiss chard. or kale. or okra. blech.

    tomato is a fruit. no fair.