Yes, really. Don't run away yet.
Despite the fact that I grew up next to a field where parsnips frequently grew in abundance, I think I've only eaten them once in my life. My brothers and I tended to think of them more as toy swords and play food that were left behind after the harvest, and the one time my mom decided to cook them we were more than a bit skeptical. But after watching a Good Eats episode on parsnips and seeing a bin of them at the co-op, I decided to give these muffins a try. I was pleasantly surprised. They definitely have that unique parsnip flavor, sort of spicy and earthy. Still a bit unusual, but the spices and almonds balance out the flavors for a tasty, autumn-y snack.
Now if I can just figure out what to do with the rest of my parsnips...
Parsnip Muffins (based on Alton Brown's recipe)
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 1 dozen
10 ounces parsnips (about 3 small)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt (OR sour cream)
1/4 cup applesauce (OR vegetable oil)
3/4 cup sugar
1. Prepare parsnips: Cut off both ends, peel, and grate with a box grater. Or, if you're like me and prefer to keep your knuckles intact, cut the peeled parsnips into large chunks and chop in a food processor. Either way, you should end up with about 2 1/2 cups.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the almonds in a single layer in a pie pan and place in oven while it heats. Bake the nuts until lightly toasted, approximately 10 minutes (check them every few minutes; you should also be able to smell them when they're ready). Meanwhile, thoroughly grease or spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin (don't skimp on the grease—the batter is really sticky).
3. Combine next six ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium mixing bowl; mix with a wire whisk. Whisk the eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture and parsnips; fold with a rubber spatula until all of the flour is moistened. (Use as few strokes as possible; too much mixing, and the muffins will turn out rubbery. You should still see some flour lumps in the batter.) Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the toasted almonds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins reach an internal temperature of 210 degrees F and are golden brown, rotating halfway through baking.
4. Use a small knife to loosen the muffins and immediately remove them from the tin to a cooling rack; cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Store completely cooled muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days.