Tag Archives: root vegetable

Parsnips: the Most Delicious Root Veggie Since Carrots

We’re coming back around to parsnip season here in the northwest, and we are super excited! Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) are a delicious root vegetable with a tender, fibrous texture and a sweet flavor. It’s a close relative of parsley and carrots (to which they bear many similarities in taste and shape). Parsnips are delicious in a big mixed veggie roast with salt and pepper, or roasted alone with some curry powder. They also make excellent addition to stews- their rich, sweet flavor adds depth and complexity to the base. Parsnip fries are delicious twist on sweet-potato or carrot fries.

Check out some of Martha Stewart’s recipes for parsnips.

During the height of the Roman Empire, parsnips were prized as a source of sugar and dietary staple high in starch. Emperor Tiberius is reported to have accepted some of Germany’s tribute payment to Rome in parsnips, illustrating the high status the vegetable held. At the time, carrots were still usually white, so there was some trouble distinguishing between carrots and parsnips.

By Zyance (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Zyance (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s the difference between a root veggie and a tuber?

In America, the parsnip has not been quite so highly valued, having been replaced by sugar cane and beets as a source of sugar and by potatoes as a source of starch. However, roasted parsnip is still a central part of many folks’ Christmas dinners, and they remain ubiquitous in grocery stores and farmers markets across the country.

What are your favorite parsnip recipes?

 

 

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Lots of Layers

To know one’s onion is to know one’s stuff.
– Old English Idiom

It is COLD outside in Washington! I hope everyone has been staying safe and warm in this snowy cold weather.

OnionYou might be wondering how, in these temperatures, can anything edible grow? However, there is a root vegetable that has endured many climates to become a foundational staple of almost every diet in the world: The ONION.

Onions are incredibly resilient and durable, which is why they are considered to be one of the first cultivated crops in the world. The Onion has been around so long, (approx. 5000 years!) horticulturists aren’t exactly sure of its origin. They hypothesize it originated in central Asia, Pakistan, and/or Iraq but really no one is sure. For it’s time, it was quite the progressive vegetable.

The Egyptians believed its anatomy represented eternal life, and included the onion in many feasts and altars to their gods. Egyptologists have even found them in mummies tombs, including Ramses IV.pile of onions

Early century doctors from all around the world used the onion to cure all sorts of aliments. Pompeii’s own Pliny the Elder used the onion to cure a plethora of ailments, like toothaches, insomnia and mouth-sores.

The Greeks made their Olympic Athletes drink onion juice before competitions, and rub onion oil over their bodies. They believed it made them better athletes because it lightened the balance of the blood. Interesting for this years winter Olympics, onions are a very common vegetable in many traditional Russian dishes.

876096_77650520You would be hard pressed to find a country that doesn’t use onions and the United States and Washington state are no exceptions. Here in Washington we grow a large portion of the countries onions and some of the best onions. In fact onions and a particular species of onion have put the Washington city of Walla Walla on the map.

So enjoy some onions this week. They have been a healthy staple for thousands of years of human history and are still delightfully tasty today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!