In some places, March is the time when crops get planted and farmers ready themselves for the summer growing season. That’s largely not true here in Greater Bangor (and much of Maine). Instead, we’re still enjoying storage crops like parsnips.
Parsnips are a root vegetable with a similar shape to carrots. The two vegetables are related — edible cousins, if you will — but the flavors are distinctly different. Where carrots are sweet, parsnips are more savory. Keep an eye out for them at the farmers market. You can also often find them at local grocers, too.
Rich in potassium, folate and fiber, parsnips are a healthy addition to your diet. Try them in stir fries, stews, mashes and more. Or make the recipes below. They are a great and easy introduction to this vegetable.
In the parsnip fries recipe below, parsnips become a fry-like side dish, perfect for this time of year. A dusting of cornstarch and spritz of cooking oil gives them a crispy outside after baking. Seasoned with salt and pepper, they’re delightful dipped in ketchup.
They’re also delightful roasted, as in the pasta below.
Baked peppery parsnip fries
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— spray oil
— 1 lb parsnips (about 3), peeled and cut into french fry shapes
— 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
— 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
— 1/2 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a parching sheet with parchment paper or other nonstick paper. Spray on a thin layer of oil.
In a large bowl, toss together the parsnips, corn starch, salt and pepper. Spray in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray with additional oil.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring and flipping once or twice, until golden. Remove from the oven.
Roasted root vegetable pasta with tomatoes
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— 2 carrots, peeled and small diced
— 2 parsnips, peeled and small diced
— 5-6 small shallots, peeled and quartered
— 1 quart grape tomatoes
— 2 tbsp. olive oil
— salt and pepper
— 1 15.5-oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
— 1/2 pound gemelli pasta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange the carrots, parsnips, shallots and grape tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the cannellini beans and stir. Spread into an even layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender.
Cook gemelli pasta according to package directions, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
In a serving bowl. toss together the pasta and roasted vegetable mixture. Add the reserved water, a little at a time, to desired moistness.
Taste and season, as needed, with salt and pepper.