There is something about the parsnip that seems fancy.  Frenchy, even.  I can recall my mother first preparing them for our family when I entered the seventh grade. We loved them.  That same year I had started a new school.  I’m not sure the exact assignment, or even what class, but I know I had to make a presentation about European food.  I brought in chocolate mousse and room-temperature sautéed parsnips, claiming absolutely everyone ate the carrot’s pale cousin this way in Paris. Despite my completely unresearched selling point, only one of these items proved a hit at 9:30 in the morning with a bunch of embarrassed, barely budding 13 year olds, the other: a gag inducing miss. Couple this incident with my fondness for wearing skirts when absolutely everyone else wore jeans, and you’ve got the makings of one hell of a class weirdo.

And yet, I have not allowed middle school memories to scar me.  I still wear mostly skirts, and I love me some parsnips.

These days I like to par boil them for just a bit before giving them a very light coating of real maple syrup and roasting them at a high heat.  Par boiling is a technique that I’ve only started using recently, but I feel like it has changed my life.  It has certainly changed my potatoes–try par boiling them for 4 or 5 minutes before roasting in olive oil, they come out so much better than just straight roasting.  Parsnips don’t need as long.  Two to three minutes tops.  I like to use herbs whenever possible, and because parsnips are so good with a light drizzle of maple syrup, crispy sage seemed like the perfect match.  Also, I cannot not think of this amazing customer complaint whenever I think of maple and sage together. I may not be French, but I am from the North.

Maple Glazed Parsnips with Caramelized Sage:

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

pinch sea salt & pepper

1 – 2 bunches sage (about 6 leaves)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add parsnips and allow to boil for 2 minutes.  Drain well.  Drizzle olive oil over a cookie sheet. spread the parsnips over the sheet and top with maple syrup, sea salt and fresh black pepper.  Toss and put in oven, stirring and rotating after 10 minutes.  Roast 10 minutes more or until golden.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in small saucepan over low heat.  Add brown sugar.  Stir and raise the heat so the mixture just begins to bubble.  Toss in sage and swirl about to coat.  Sprinkle a little salt over top.  Cook sage until crispy, it won’t take long. Remove with tongs and allow to cool.  Crumble over finished parsnips.

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