Best November to February

What an absolute star a parsnip is – full of soft, juicy flesh and a fragrant, sweet flavour.

They are lovely plain, steamed, mashed and roasted, and one of my favourite parsnip recipes is where they are baked in the oven with Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano).

I like them best after the frosts have arrived, which really does intensify their flavour. Because parsnips are stored, they tend to go a bit woody towards the end of the winter, so enjoy them at their best between November and February. If you can, buy small, young parsnips that don't need peeling and coring; the older, larger, late-winter parsnips need the peel taken off and the cores cut out. Then cut them into even-sized pieces and steam for 10-15 minutes, and serve with plenty of salt and freshly milled black pepper and a little butter.

For roasting, prepare them in the same way, toss in a little oil and season. Place on a pre-heated roasting tray and roast in the oven pre-heated to gas mark 7, 425°F (220 C) for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the parsnips. 1 lb (450 g) of parsnips will serve 4 people.

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