In Season: Parsnips
The parsnip, which is related to both the carrot and celery root, looks pale and sometimes a bit straggly, but its homely appearance masks an elegant, intense, herbal sweetness. Scoop up a pound or two of them on your next trip to the market and you'll discover a new star in autumn meals.
Small parsnips aren't necessarily more tender than large ones, so choose fairly big specimens to minimize the amount of peeling you'll have to do. Look for sweet-smelling, firm parsnips free of blemishes or soft spots, and avoid those with a sprouting top, which signifies a woody core. Stored in a ventilated plastic bag, parsnips keep for weeks in the crisper.
Peel and trim parsnips just like you would carrots. If you do find a woody core, simply remove it with a paring knife. Parsnips are slightly softer and quicker cooking than carrots. They have great body when pureed (delicious with pork), and when roasted, they caramelize on the outside and turn creamy within. They play well with other root vegetables, dark leafy greens, and smoky flavors, and lend spicy sweetness to baked goods.