Is something organic if it is shipped across the country? What about the fuel that is used and how that affects our environment, not to mention the freshness of the food and a myriad of other factors. Over the last few years i have been reading everything i can get my hands on to help me answer these and other questions so sit back, relax and explore where my quest has taken me thus far.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Battle Parsnip

So as a fun way to try new veggies we decided to select at least one vegetable per month that we have
never had or never cooked and prepare it a few different ways to see if we like it. For our first vegetable we chose parsnips. It was random and an excellent choice for our first veggie battle. As it turns out this is an incredibly versatile root. I tried a piece of it raw and it has a sweetness to it that goes oh so well with savory flavorings.

We each decided to do three preparations then have a tasting. And of course we had Iron Chef on in the background for inspiration. It was a fun time.

Pictured to the right starting at the snowflake and going clockwise are 4 of our 6 preparations. Roasted parsnip and kale salad, curried parsnip stew, spicy parsnip and sweet potato soup and a surprising popular one the candied parsnips. Not pictured are the parsnip chips or "parchips" (haha) that had a spicy dip and the herby yogurt parsnips which were nothing short of amazing. The chips we ate before i could get a pic (yea, they were that good) and the herby 'snips were still cooking.

Here are the recipes that I did, I will put the full recipe down and note things that I omitted or added on my own:
Kale Salad with roasted parsnips (and cauliflower which I omitted)

1 cauliflower cut into florets (omitted)
2 parsnips cut on the bias and then cut into small pieces
3 T olive oil divided
1 lemon zest and juice (i just used lemon juice)
2 tsp kosher salt (i used a couple of sprinkles)
1 tsp black pepper (again just a couple of sprinkles)
4 rosemary sprigs
1 pinch red pepper flakes (omitted)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale, remove stems and ribs and cut or tear into small pieces

preheat oven to 425F.

1. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, parsnips, 1 1/2 T olive oil, lemon zest (i added lemon juice), 1 tsp salt (or a sprinkle) and 1/2 tsp pepper (or just a sprinkle), toss and combine all.
place veggies onto baking sheet, tuck rosemary sprigs among the vegetables, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and roast until the veggies turn brown around the edges (20-25 minutes). REDUCE oven temp to 325F and continue to roast until tender, about 15 more minutes. Remove baking sheet, discard rosemary sprigs.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2T olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, remaining salt and pepper. Add half of this mixture to a large bowl along with the kale. Use hands to mix together, the kale should turn a brighter green color. About 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the parsnips and cauliflower to the kale and then serve.

A couple of notes. I made this in a much smaller batch because we were only doing small tastings of each preparation so my parsnips cooked VERY fast, I'm talking about 10 minutes and they were completely done, I also cut them into smaller pieces which probably helped that. So keep an eye on them. I definitely think the recommended amount of salt and pepper is too high, I don't use that much salt in my food prep anyway so I just did a little bit to help bring out the flavors. I put the chopped garlic in to roast with the parsnips along with the rosemary and both burned, i think i will incorporate them into the vinaigrette mixture next time. Aside from that, i thought this was super flavorful, the lemon juice really made the kale pop and the tartness of the lemon next to the sweetness of the parsnips were perfect compliments to each other.

Candied parsnips

2 lb parsnips
1/4 C butter
salt to taste
1/2 C maple syrup

wash parsnips and cook in boiling water until tender. Cool, scrape, halve and remove cores. Melt butter in skillet, add parsnips and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add maple syrup. cook until browned slightly and glazed turning once.

My notes: I used my mandolin and sliced the parsnips very thin prior to boiling, i didn't bother with the cooling/scraping/halving and removing of cores. The rest i did and they turned out very nice. I also drizzled a little maple syrup on top once plated because I am absolutely in love with maple syrup. :)

Sweet potato and parsnip soup- this was not my strongest dish and i will go into why after the recipe.

3 medium sweet potatoes diced
3 large parsnips diced
2 medium carrots
3 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion, chopped
1-1.5L vegetable stock
1 T coriander
salt and pepper
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1. In a large saucepan, toss all the vegetables in the Olive Oil until slightly brown and softened.
2. After 5-10 minutes, add the Vegetable Stock and bring to the boil.
3. Add the roughly chopped Garlic cloves and Coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Turn down the heat slightly and cover the saucepan. Leave vegetables to absorb the flavors and simmer for about 25 minutes.
5. Using a hand blender, blend the vegetables until a thick, smooth soup is formed (leave some chunks of vegetables if you prefer). If the consistency is too thick for your liking, simply add more stock or hot water.
6. Serve hot with a garnish of parsley and/or croutons. Serve some warm brown bread as an accompaniment. Enjoy!

For me this was not my favorite recipe because I didn't follow it very well first of all and secondly it was too sweet with both the sweet potatoes AND parsnips. I tried adding sriracha and old bay to make it somewhat savory but it just wasn't working out for me. I will try to make this one more time and will follow the recipe more closely to see how it turns out.

Regardless we had a really fun time hanging out together and making food (one of our favorite past times). I can't wait to see what our next vegetable is!

'till next time.....
~ e

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