This is more a reminder than a recipe.
It's time for parsnips! They're at their peak in the late fall and winter. So seize the moment!
You can make a rich parsnip soup, enhanced with a little cream or a lovely purée with potatoes that will marry perfectly with duck or lamb. Parsnips will beautifully round out a homey pan of roasted turnips, rutabagas, celery root, and fennel. You can fry them up into little chips, and I've even heard of grilling the nutty-flavored roots.
But I'd like to suggest the most basic of ideas for parsnips. Roast them all by their little lonesomes. Pick medium parsnips, so that you don't peel away half of them because they are so small, and so you don't have to carve out too much of their woody core because they are so big.
Peel your parsnips and cut them lengthwise in quarters. If they are on the large side, trim out their cores. Toss the parsnips with enough olive oil to lubricate them and give them a healthy grinding of pepper and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. Throw them into a roasting pan and then into a preheated 4oo degree oven until the are golden brown and soft, approximately 40 minutes.
This is simplicity itself. They are sweet and tender and slightly carmelized on the edges. Parsnips cooked this way are a stunning complement to roast beef or with any other roast meat for that matter.
This pale cousin of the carrot seems to have lost popularity over the years, but we should really bring it back to the table. They are a cinch to prepare and will easily please any crowd, including those finicky toddlers.