P is for Parsnips

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I've been hearing a lot about parsnips lately...especially on the Today Show. Matt Lauer talked about how his family purees parsnips as a substitute for mashed potatoes. (I hate to admit it, but I'd never even heard of parsnips before. If I had, I sure wasn't paying much attention.)

So I picked some up on a recent trip to the grocery. They look like big, white carrots. I put them in the bag, put them in the cart and into the crisper drawer of my fridge when I got home where they sat day after day. I'd open the drawer, look at them and wonder what to do with them and then close the drawer right back.

I was running out of time and really didn't want to just throw them away. I had some potatoes that were in as bad of shape as the parsnips and a frozen, fully cooked ham, so I typed 'parsnip, ham and potato recipes' into Google.

I found the following on The Taste of Home website.

Parsnip & Ham au Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup, undiluted
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  • Arrange the parsnips, potatoes and ham in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Combine the soup, milk, 1/4 cup cheese, thyme and pepper; pour over parsnip mixture.
  • In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, butter and remaining cheese. Sprinkle over top.
  • Cover and bake at 375° for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 296 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 45 mg cholesterol, 1,082 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 15 g protein.

I really enjoyed this recipe, but I have to make a confession.

Because I'd never cooked with parsnips I had to return to the Internet while I was peeling the parsnips because I was afraid they weren't parsnips due to their smell. Parsnips smell really strong and sweet...it reminded me of ginger. So I worried I'd bought the wrong thing and envisioned serving my family a delicious ginger, ham, potato casserole! Yum! (They were parsnips though, so it was all good. Parsnips do have a very distinct taste though, so you might want to cut the parsnips with more potatoes to balance out the flavor. Although I guess that would negate all of the health benefits of the parsnips.)