Parsnips are root vegetables that look something like white carrots. Unlike carrots, however, parsnips have a very strong flavor. This ingredient is not one that is used regularly in many home kitchens, so if your gardening neighbor decides to share the harvest with you and includes a bunch of parsnips, you may not know what to do with them. Here are some ideas of how to cook parsnips to help you use them up.

Parsnip Patties

Put about a pound of parsnips in a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the parsnips are tenders. Drain the water and mash the parsnips with a potato masher. Now get out a saucepan and melt 2 tablespoons butter in it. Chop up a small onion and add half of it to the butter. Stir while cooking until the onions are translucent. Beat in 2 tablespoons of flour and stir until it looks paste-like. Gradually add 1 cup milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens, about ten minutes. Mix together the parsnips, sauce and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste and form the mixture into patties. Put 2 cups oil in a skillet and heat to 350 degrees, then fry the patties in the skillet, five minutes per side or until browned.

Parsnip Pancakes

Place two pounds of parsnips in a large pan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for another 15 minutes or until the parsnips are tender. Drain the water and mash the parsnips with a potato masher. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup flour, 1 egg and 1 tablespoon minced chives. Mix together and drop batter onto a hot, greased griddle. Flatten the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the bottom then flip and cook the other side.

Candied Parsnips

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 tablespoons orange juice, 2 teaspoons honey and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Peel and slice 2 medium sized parsnips and add them to the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes until the parsnips are tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel.

Parsnip Chips

How about a twist on the potato chip? Here’s a recipe for making chips from parsnips instead. First peel four parsnips and slice them. Put on a pan of water to boil with a little bit of salt in it. Once the water is boiling, add the sliced parsnips. Cook them for about five minutes. They should still be crisp. Drain the water and let the parsnips cool a bit. Then dip the slices in melted butter and put them on a baking sheet. Put them in the refrigerator until the butter hardens. Now heat up 2 cups of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Coat the parsnip slices with flour and fry them until golden brown. Season with salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper to taste.

Now you have four very different ideas for how to cook parsnips, so pick whichever dish strikes your fancy and try cooking some parsnips for the family to try. You never know, you might find a new family favorite.

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