are another of the old-world vegetables that are experiencing a huge resurgence in the culinary world. Their flavor, somewhere between the bite of a radish and the sweetness of a carrot, is a unique addition to a gourmet plate. Although their restaurant and grocery store price tags are high, growing parsnips at home is as cheap as can be.
Parsnips are a member of the same family as parsley
. They look a lot like oversized yellowish-white carrots, but have a sweet-nutty flavor that is all their own. In addition, they're a healthy choice for both savory and sweet recipes, containing vitamins B6, C, and E, plenty of fiber and several minerals.
Growing parsnips takes some patience---the seeds can take up to 20 days to germinate---so don't give up on them if you don't see seedlings in a week or two. The best time to plant is mid-spring. Plant the seeds about 3/4 inch deep in rich, prepared soil. Thin to 2 inches apart once seedlings appear. You'll want to side-dress the soil with compost or another organic soil amendment in early summer.
Even though they're planted in spring, parsnips are considered a winter vegetable
. Why, you ask? Well, it's not until the roots have been exposed to a few weeks of freezing weather that the starch in the roots converts to sugar, creating that unique flavor. You can harvest them anytime, but they won't taste as great unless you wait until late fall/early winter. You can even leave the parsnip roots in the ground to over-winter, yielding an especially sweet treat when you dig them up in spring!