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Produce Corner - Parsnips

The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips; Kristen offers nutritional information and additional recipe ideas. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.

Pity the poor parsnip!

Misunderstood cousin of the glorious carrot, the parsnip is just not that familiar to most of us. Usually grown in the fall so that Autumn's cold weather can turn starches to sugars, the parsnip can be quite sweet and nutty. When people ask me how to eat local during the winter in Chicago, the parsnip is my go-to vegetable. Parsnips store very well and they often last into spring. They are absolutely fantastic when mixed with other roots crops that, incidentally, also store well through the wintertime.

Look for parsnips with good color and firm roots. If they do get soft, use them up right away. Parsnips are great roasted, and in stews and soups. Like most vegetables, I say to leave the skins on for the most nutrients. You'll never even notice. Store parsnips in the crisper section of your refrigerator, wrapped in plastic or a damp towel, and keep them moist – not wet - and cold.

My favorite parsnip recipe is also a simple one. Head on down to the Co-op and get yourself some parsnips, carrots, potatoes, olive oil, and a favorite, fresh herb. Cut the parsnips, potatoes and carrots into one inch slices and mix with olive oil, herb, and then salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 425 for about a half hour, until they are just getting tender. Delicious! - Rob

I have to say parsnips are one of my favorite fall root crops. While most folks are adding pumpkin to anything and everything they can, I'm adding parsnip to anything & everything I can. And yes, this includes juicing it  (for those of you who know me, know I'm an avid juicer!). I love the sweet crunch raw but roasting it like Rob shared in his recipe above, brings its sweetness to a whole other level! It's simply amazing! Nutritionally speaking, parnsips are excellent sources of vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber. With it's vitamin C content, this is a great local food option to munch on all winter to keep your immune system in check! In addiiton to roasting, parsnips are a wonderful addition to soups. Check out this vegan curried carrot & parsnip soup next time your craving a hearty, warm bowl of something delicious. YUM! And I can't possibly write this without paying tribute to oven-baked parsnip fries... DOUBLE YUM! - Kristen

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