This root vegetable has been showing up on restaurant menus throughout San Francisco. The parsnip -- the formerly neglected cousin of carrots -- has been sneaking its way into soups, purees, pastas, garnishes, and vegetable terrines all over town.
Parsnips look like carrots, only fatter in diameter and lighter in color. The flavor is sweeter and more mellow than a carrot and doesn't comes to life until cooked. They are best when harvested in late fall or winter, after the frost.
How do I buy them? Look for parsnips that are small to medium in size. The larger ones may have a fibrous core, which can be cut out before cooking.
How do I eat them? Try replacing parsnips in recipes that call for carrots. They can be used in soups and stews, and pureed with or without potatoes. For a wintry, holiday side dish, peel, slice, and coat 2 pounds of parsnips with 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Season with cardamom and ground ginger. Roast at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.