An Adventure with Parsnip Thinnings

I was out in the garden the other day and noticed that my parsnips, which I had planted from seeds that I had saved last year, were sprouted and very happy.  In fact, they were in need of thinning.  See, I had planted several seeds on each hole because I didn’t know if my saved seeds would actually be viable.  Turns out, they are extremely potent.

So instead of following my own advice to snip off the extra sprouts with scissors, I opted to gently pull them out and put them to use in the kitchen.  I was already dreaming of the magnificent salad I was about to create with these baby sprouts.  Didn’t really know what it would taste like, but I was feeling adventurous.

Inside the house, I pinched off the roots of each little sprout, washed them with other greens like arugula, romaine-type lettuces and a little basil.  After a quick spin in the salad spinner, they went into a bowl and were topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a little soy sauce, sesame sprinkle and voilà!  a gastronomic delight.

With the first bite, I immediately noticed that the combination of arugula and parsnip sprouts was marvelous.  Why?  Because parsnip greens, at least these parsnip greens taste just like parsley.  Now here’s the interesting part:

Parsnips are a close relative to parsley.  The leaf shape is the same, and some time ago the Germans developed a parsley that would develop roots: Hamburg Parsley.   HP and parsnips look a lot a like.  In fact, I had read somewhere (can’t remember where – so sorry) that seed companies sometimes substitute Hamburg Parsley for Parsnips because they have similar characteristics and the same growing conditions.

I’ve also recently read that parsnip leaves contain a toxin called furocoumarins that causes a skin reaction in sunlight.  Does this explain my recent development of little itchy bumps all over my torso?  I don’t know – but I’m pretty sure those came up before I ate the parsnip sprouts.  Regardless, I’m not hurling, and I’m not blotchy, so maybe those toxins develop as the plant grows.  I’ll have to ask a botanist and let you know.  Anywho – toxic or not, they were delicious.  I’m not advising anyone else to try this, or course, I just thought I’d share my experiment with you.

Comments, questions?  Post ’em here. 

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