Learn: This hardy root vegetable enjoys cool climates―it requires frost to convert its starches to sugars and develop its sweet, nutty flavor. Although it bears a striking resemblance to a carrot, a parsnip has pale, cream-colored skin. Its tough, woody texture softens with cooking.
Purchase: Look for small to medium-sized parsnips with beige skin. You'll find them year-round, but their peak season is from fall to spring. They should be blemish-free and firm. Since parsnips are sometimes sold near similar-looking parsley roots, be sure you're purchasing the right item. Parsnips are sold by the root only, while parsley roots are typically sold with their greens attached.
Store: Like other root vegetables, parsnips store well. Wrap unwashed parsnips in a paper towel, place in a plastic zip-top bag, and store in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Use: Wash the exterior, and peel. Cut off the top and bottom, and slice or julienne, depending on the recipe's directions. Then steam, roast, or sauté for a hearty side dish. Add parsnips during the last 30 minutes of cooking when preparing stews and soups to keep them appealingly tasty.