Take Roasted Parsnips Up A Level With A Sweet Twist

Maybe you've seen parsnips used as a stand-in for mashed potatoes before, but beyond that, they are largely a lesser-known root vegetable that discerning foodies should really stop sleeping on. They're closely related to carrots, yet unlike orange carrots' mild flavor, cream-colored parsnips tote a sharp earthy taste. Their similar structure to carrots means that parsnips benefit massively from a softening slow roast, which brings out their natural sugar content. In fact, foodies in Europe used to use parsnips as a natural sweetener before turning to sugar cane. Now, centuries later, we're championing one extra tip to level up your parsnips: Roast them with complementary sweet spices to amp up their natural sweetness even more. 

To do it, de-core and cut your parsnips into wedges roughly the thickness of a finger. Before you pop 'em in the oven, sprinkle your parsnips with some cinnamon and cayenne to bring out the veggie's natural sweetness as they roast. You could even drizzle them with agave. Then, transfer your seasoned parsnips to a baking sheet and cook in the oven until tender, crispy, and browned — that's it. 

If you roast your parsnips in a fat element, their natural sugars will caramelize, adding both sweetness and a slight crunch. Goose fat, lard, and butter add big flavor, however, vegetable oil works well here as a vegan-friendly option. That said, no fat content is necessary at all to create a killer veg.

Natural sugars steal the show with a little home cook handiwork

Feel free to flex your culinary creativity and brainstorm other sweet ingredients for your parsnips. A simple honey balsamic glaze would pair well with their earthy, vegetal flavor. You could also whip up a quick maple syrup and brown sugar glaze, or get fancy with a blackberry wine sauce. To emphasize the veggie's nutty notes, you could roast them in a complex combo of nutmeg, ginger, and garlic. Serve sugar-roasted parsnips with creamy ricotta and hazelnuts, or use your sweet roasted parsnips to top a pear and brie galette.

Sweet roasted parsnips make a sophisticated, unexpected side dish for dinner parties and holiday meals. Plus, it's largely a fix-it and forget-it prep; just toss your parsnips in the oven and you're free to mingle with guests or catch up on your favorite shows as they cook. Serve your earthy-sweet roasted parsnips in an apple hash beside pork tenderloin. You could kick it vegetarian style and pair 'em with other complementary roasted veggie dishes like creamed spinach, garlic mashed potatoes, pasta-style spaghetti squash, and apple bread pudding for dessert. For a quick and impressive dinner on a busy weeknight, pair brown sugar maple roasted parsnips with a store-bought rotisserie chicken.