Whether you're cooking beef, chicken, goose or gammon, parsnips are the perfect winter root vegetables to add sweetness to your roast.
Read on for how to prepare and roast your parsnips, as well as Jamie Oliver’s parsnips recipes, Delia’s alternative twist, and how Heston Blumenthal can help you make your parsnips hot stuff.
Plus, find out what you can do with any roast parsnip leftovers, including parsnip soup, and alternatives on the traditional roast parsnips. How about parsnip mash or parsnip purée?
If you're thinking of growing your own veg, visit our guide to growing your own vegetables, for everything you need to know. It includes a list of monthly jobs and tips on how to save money by growing your own veg.
Choosing the right fatty ingredient will stop your parsnips from going dry while roasting, such as olive oil, vegetable oil or beef dripping. For a really thick crispy layer, goose and duck fat works well (or you can place your parsnips in the same pan with the turkey and use the turkey fat).
Goose or duck fat will make your parsnips really crispy.
You'll also want to factor in what your oven is like, as this could change the timings. When we've tested ovens, we've found that some overheat by up to 30ºC more than the temperature set - enough to throw off your roast dinner timings.
Parsnips can be boiled or half-roasted the day before and kept in the fridge. Or prepared further in advance and frozen. If you don’t have space in the fridge, Rick Stein’s parsnips recipe suggests simply preparing the night before and leaving in cold water.
You can half-roast your parsnips the day before and keep in the fridge, Mary Berry recommends re-roasting in a hot oven at 190ºC/Fan 170ºC/Gas 5, for about 20 minutes.
Parsnips can be par-boiled or half-roasted the day before to save time.
It’s easy to roast the parsnips in one tin with similar root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots - though, bear in mind, they take less time to cook than potatoes.
If you have prepared your parsnips on the day, place them in a saucepan with cold water (most chefs recommend adding a pinch of salt) and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, the parsnips will need less than five minutes to parboil, or between 5-10 minutes until cooked through.
If you’d prefer not to boil, Nigella puts her parsnips straight in a roasting tin with oil and roasts for 35 minutes.
If you're cooking lots on your hob for your roast dinner, you might want to consider a Best Buy hob – they’re easy to control and adjust, a world away from some hobs that we've found a pain to keep to the right temperature.
There’s no right or wrong to peeling parsnips. Young/baby parsnips generally don’t need peeling - just scrubbed clean in the same way as potatoes.
Older parsnips with a softer skin (which tend to be flexible/limp) and those with a waxy coating should be peeled thinly. Some can have a tough, fibrous core which is chewy to eat, so is best cut out and discarded.
Once the parsnips are washed, cut off the tops, slice in half lengthways and cut the strips in half. Though for extra crunchy roasted parsnips, Mary Berry’s parsnip preparation tips suggest cutting each one into eighths rather than quarters so there are more corners to pick up the fat.
Any leftover parsnips can be blended with other vegetables into a quick and easy soup, add some extra flavour with onion, garlic and a stock cube. Deliciously Ella combines a variety of spices in her roasted parsnip soup recipe, with subtle hints of tangy apple cider vinegar.
If you're thinking about using left overs to feed your family after Christmas day, it's worth considering getting a soup maker or jug blender.
The best jug blenders will help you whizz up even the toughest of ingredients in no time, leaving you with a smooth and delicious soup. A Best Buy soup maker will go one step further than blending - it'll warm the soup to just the right temperature too.
Supermarket parsnips often come in a bag of about 500g, Jamie Oliver recommends 2kg (around 4.4lbs) of parsnips to serve 10 people. For reference, 1lb of parsnips is equivalent to about four medium parsnips.
So you don’t end up with some burnt roasted ones, it’s best to pick the parsnips of an even thickness, rather than ones with a particularly skinny end.
Fresh parsnips are pale and evenly-coloured, those with dark spots could mean that the vegetable is starting to rot.
Parsnips with splits and long thin roots (measuring millimetres in width), can have a tough woody texture with pithy centres. Choose your parsnips as you would carrots.
Parsnips wrapped in a paper towel or in a plastic bag can last up to two weeks in a refrigerator. If you cut off the tops of freshly-picked ones and store them in a tub layered with dry peat moss in a cool part of your house (a garage or cellar work well) they can last for around six months.
Cooked parsnips can be kept in the fridge drawer and used within around three days. Parsnips can also be frozen, once they’ve been cooked and cooled down.
How long your food lasts in the fridge will depend on how good the fridge is at cooling food quickly and keeping it at the same temperature. Unfortunately, our lab tests of hundreds of fridges show that man models that don't manage to do these things very successfully.
For more storage tips, read our expert guide on how to make your food stay fresher for longer.