Imperfect Parsnips

ParsnipMy parsnips definitely wouldn’t pass muster in a supermarket beauty parade. In Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s series, War on Waste, he highlights the huge amount of produce our supermarkets reject, particularly when it comes to imperfect veg.

This article in The Guardian: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall rejects Morrisons' 'pathetic' wonky veg trial reveals the plight of ugly vegetables.

Back to my stubby little parsnips. I know where I went wrong. I used too much compost. Parsnips don’t like fertile topsoil. They need to be able to search deep for their food. If the topsoil is too fertile, they start to put out a number of small roots, as mine have done.

The trick is to dig the compost deep into your parsnip beds in the autumn. That way, the parsnips have to go downwards for their food. I’ve also heard of some gardeners growing parsnips in drain pipes to keep them straight.

My parsnips may not be the prettiest (or the largest) you’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be going to waste. Fried grated parsnips are delicious on their own or added to a potato rosti. They’re also quick to cook as they only need a few minutes tossed in olive oil in a hot frying pan.

Parsnip Rosti


Parsnips, peeled and grated
50g/2oz unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the grated parsnips between sheets of kitchen roll and press to remove excess liquid. Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the grated parsnip, press down and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until crisp and golden-brown.

Baked Parsnip Crisps

Grating parsnips can be a bit fiddly, so alternatively you can turn them into baked crisps.

Remove the twisted roots then cut into slices like crisps. Put them in with the roast potatoes for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

My homegrown parsnips may not have been attractive, but that didn’t detract from their taste. As you’ll know from this blog, I hate food waste, which is why I signed: #wastenot

Grated parsnip