In my continuing quest to experiment with more seasonal vegetables, I picked up some parsnips and turnips at the market this weekend. I have used both in winter vegetable soups. I typically use turnips in my Cornish pasties and have roasted both with various other vegetables fairly often but had not cooked them on their own. The raw parsnips smelled quite a bit like raw carrots to me, and looked like them too, albeit white. I stumped the clerk at the grocery store, who had to first ask me what they were and then look them up on the chart. I’ve always been in awe of the clerks being able to remember the codes for all the different produce and I guess if you don’t cook learning to recognize them is tricky in itself!
I was going to do a pureed thing and saw that you could easily combine the parsnips with turnips or carrots but decided to keep them “pure” the first time so I could know the taste. I liked them. The kids were so-so but I know that if I keep serving them they’ll get used to them and just eat them because they’re there. As is typical, when I try a brand new food like this I make sure to have other stuff on the table, so I cooked up some spinach and made some pasta and ricotta to go with the pork tenderloin that was the main course.
- 1 pound small parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs milk or the water they were cooked in, roughly
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbs dried parsley flakes
- Steam or microwave the parsnips until you can pierce them easily with a fork.
- Put them in a food processor with the butter and puree them. Add just enough liquid (milk or the water the parsnips were cooked in) to make the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley. You can make these ahead and then reheat in the microwave or in a small saucepan over very low heat.
They have a distinct, but very pleasant, flavor. A friend who came to dinner was reminded of coconut and he was off thinking about some curry. Then he mixed them with the pasta and ricotta and thought that was heavenly. Me, I liked them as they were. The flavor is mild but unique. I think the kids would probably more readily eat them if I included some cooked carrots in the puree next time. The color made them think of mashed potatoes and then they had that disappointment factor fighting against the parsnips, although they didn’t reject them totally.
So the dinner was, for those of you who like menu ideas:
barbecued marinated pork tenderloin
pasta and ricotta