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What the Heck Is a Parsnip?

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What the Heck Is a Parsnip?

Parsnips are root vegetables. They look like pale, yellowish carrots, but have a pungent, radish-like flavor. The name comes from the Latin word “pars,” which means forked. The “nip” ending comes from the erroneous belief that parsnips are a type of turnip.

Parsnips have been grown and eaten throughout Europe and Asia since ancient times. Until the 16th Century, when Spanish explorers brought the potato back from the New World, parsnips, turnips and other native root vegetables were the primary food staple throughout most of Europe. Over the centuries, though, these once common foods fell out of favor. Now, with the growth of the local foods movement, and more people looking to buy fresh seasonal produce all year long, many of these forgotten root veggies are getting a new lease on life.

Parsnips taste great boiled, fried, roasted, or even raw. They make a great flavor-booster in soups, stews, or casseroles. But don’t let your creativity stop there. The sky is the limit with this tasty tuber!

Parsnip Cake

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2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

2½ cups shredded parsnips

3/4 cup walnuts ground

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine and sift dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together butter, oil, and sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Gradually add dry ingredients and continue beating. Add parsnips, nuts, and vanilla. Spread into a greased and floured ring or bundt pan and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup softened butter

4 oz. cream cheese

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Beat ingredients together until smooth.

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