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Parsnips often get a bad rep, making it onto many lists of foods people will not eat. I wonder if those who say they hate parsnips have ever actually tasted one. I often suspect not.

I think it is the name that troubles people. For reasons I can’t really explain, parsnips are often associated, in people’s minds, with rutabagas and turnips, both of which can have strong flavors that simply aren’t for everyone.

But rutabagas and turnips are brassicas, as are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and mustard. The parsnip is a cousin of the carrot, and it’s much less common to find someone who hates carrots, though the late writer M.F.K. Fisher admitted to having an aversion to them.

A parsnip is typically sweeter than most, but not all, varieties of carrots. They can be much bigger, too, though a lot of local farmers harvest them before they get bulky. Their shoulders are broader than most carrots and they taper down more quickly and have a longer. thinner tip than most carrots. They are cousins, not twins.

Like their cousins, parsnips are low in calories — a half cup of sliced parsnips has about 55 calories — high in fiber, and full of Vitamin C and trace minerals.

A native of Europe, the parsnip requires cold weather to develop its full flavor and texture. They are harvested once their starch has turned to sugar, which occurs while they are still in the ground, after the first frost.

Parsnips are easy to prepare and require no special technique. They can be cut into pieces about the size of a standard French fry and roasted either solo or with other similarly cut root vegetables, with or without a sprig or two of rosemary.

Those same root vegetables can serve as a bed for roasted chicken or roast beef.

Add them to soups, stews, fried potatoes and scalloped potatoes.

And you know where to find the best, right? Yes, your local farmers market.

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One way to enjoy parsnips if you are unfamiliar with them is in a soup.

Here’s I’ve added potatoes and carrots to broaden the flavor and balance out the sweetness of the parsnips.

Roasted Parsnip Soup with Toasted Walnuts and Chives

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound parsnips, roasted in the oven until tender (see note below)

3 tablespoons butter

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 medium or 2 small carrots, trimmed and minced

1 medium potato, peeled and dice

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

— Pinch of ground cardamom

6 cups homemade chicken, duck, or ham stock

— Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup shelled walnuts, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons snipped chives or chopped Italian parsley leaves

1/2 cup creme fraiche

— Olio Nuovo (new olive oil)

Trim the parsnips and chop them into fairly small pieces. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan or soup pot set over medium heat, and when it is foamy, add the onion and carrot. Sauté gently until completely tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the potato, sauté for 2 or 3 minutes more and season with salt, pepper, and cardamom.

Add the parsnips and the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the parsnips are completely tender.

Remove from the heat, cool slightly and puree thoroughly with an immersion blender.

While the soup is cooling, combine the lemon zest, walnuts and chives or parsley, season with salt, and toss thoroughly.

Stir the creme fraiche into the soup after you have pureed it. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle into soup plates and scatter some of the walnut mixture over each portion. Drizzle with a little olio novo and enjoy right away.

Note: To roast parsnips, rinse and scrub them to loosen and remove any dirt. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Set the parsnips on a baking sheet or in a heavy pan, drizzle with just a little olive oil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork.

The time will vary from about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the parsnips.

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When making any kind of a slaw, the way the vegetables are cut is one of the most important elements. The smaller and thinner they are cut, the more of their natural liquid will eventually be released. If they are cut into small or medium julienne, they will be crunchy and the uniformity of the pieces will be pleasing to both the eye and the palate. If shredded on a small blade, both flavors and textures will be less distinct.

Root Vegetable Slaw With Ginger Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 8 as a side dish

— Ginger Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1 medium white carrot, trimmed and peeled

1 medium orange carrot, trimmed and peeled

1 medium purple carrot, trimmed and peeled

2 medium parsnips, trimmed and peeled

— Handful of radishes, trimmed

1 small jicama, peeled

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Make the vinaigrette and set it aside.

Using a sharp vegetable peeler, make curls of the carrots, parsnips and radishes. Turn each vegetable after making each peel, which will create the best sizes.

Put the vegetable curls into a serving bowl, season lightly with salt, and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add several turns of black pepper, followed by the vinaigrette, parsley, and cilantro. Toss and enjoy right away.

Variation: Instead of using a vegetable peeler, use a mandoline, fitted with its smallest julienne blade, to cut the vegetables. This will create a uniform texture that is crunchier than when the vegetables are shaved with a peeler.

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Ginger-Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes a scant 1/2 cup

1 shallot, minced

— Kosher salt

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

— Pinch of sugar

— Black pepper in a mill

5 tablespoons mildly-flavored olive oil

Put the shallot into a small bowl and add a generous pinch of salt, along with the vinegar and lime juice. Set

aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the ginger and mustard, add a generous pinch of sugar and several turns of pepper and stir in the olive oil.

Taste and correct for salt and acid. If the vinaigrette isn’t tangy enough, add a bit more lime juice. If it is too tangy, add a bit more olive oil. If it tastes at all flat, season with a bit more salt.

Cover and set aside until ready to use.

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This puree is smooth and silky, with an earthy richness that makes it an ideal accompaniment to a wide range of foods, from grilled portobello mushrooms and roasted cauliflower to seared duck breast and pan-roasted ribeye steak.

Parsnip Puree

Makes 4 to 6 servings

11/2 pounds parsnips, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced

1/2 pound red potatoes, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced

— Kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup half-and-half

6 tablespoons best-quality butter

— Black pepper in a mill

Put the parsnips and potatoes into a medium saucepan, add water to cover them by about 1 inch, season generously with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes or so, depending on their thickness.

Drain well, return the pan to medium heat, and shake several times, to move water to the bottom of the pan. When all the water seems to have evaporated, remove from the heat.

Working quickly, pass the parsnips and potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill fitted with its small blade, into a warmed bowl. Pour the cream, half-and-half, and half the butter into a small saucepan, season with salt and pepper, heat through, and, when the butter is melted, pour into the vegetable mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, whip well, until mixture is smooth and uniform.

Add a tablespoon of the remaining butter and mix in thoroughly; continue until the remaining butter has been incorporated. Taste, correct for salt, and enjoy right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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