Parsnips are a good old-fashioned vegetable which are becoming more and more popular, mostly spurred onwards by the Jamie Olivers and Nigel Slaters of this world. In Leiden, where I live, they are known as one of the vegetables left in a pan by the Spanish after the fled the country a few hundred years ago. This dish (“Hutspot”) is the most famous in the city, eaten around the 3rd October every year to commemorate the breaking of the Spanish siege of Leiden. These days the parsnips are often substituted by potatoes, which is a pity.
I like roasting parsnips and serving them with a roasted piece of meat. Their starch caramelises and the parsnips become soft and incredibly sweet inside. Their skins thicken and crisp up with the dripping fat from the meat. They are also great to make a thick warming soup for the cold winter months.
I asked for some parsnips at our local supermarket. “Par-what?” was the answer, “I’ll have to ask my colleague about that”.
“Yes, sir, some of the extreme vegetables are often in the Surinaam section”. Sure enough, there they were, sitting in the ‘extreme vegegables’ section. I’m happy to report that the local greengrocers knew just what they were, and had plenty sitting between butternut squash and pumpkins.