But why eat them other than because of their availability and healthiness? Well, If all you've experienced of Patinaca sativa is the rubbery, ancient roots sold by most American grocers and tasting nothing incrementally different from soggy cardboard, then it's small wonder. Ah, but a freshly pulled parsnip is another thing altogether--honestly, like a completely different vegetable. I found this out when my husband, the garden and landscape genius, handed some parsnips to me, earth still clinging to them. I mustered little enthusiasm, until I actually bit into a tender morsel of licorice-butter parsnip. A potato, a carrot, fennel--all of those flavors are in a fresh parsnip. Mildly sweet (think, jicama sweetness level) and with a definite anise undertone, fresh parsnips are simply DIVINE.
What to do with parsnips:
Peel, cut into chunks, cut out any woody or dark areas, and toss them into . . .
—any soup or stew. Unlike carrots, parsnips maintain their flavor longer under the duress of liquid cooking.
—a roasting pan, dotted with butter, and then bake at 400 for 30 minutes--stirring occasionally--for a full-on savory treat (you can also drizzle on a bit of honey or maple syrup for added fun).
—a steamer with a bit of water (can also be sliced). Dress as you like and serve as a hearty side dish.