Sunday, 6 April 2014

Parsnip , A jewel among Vegetables

Parsnip, a creamy coloured, long and tapering in shape root vegetable is closely related to the carrot and while they can be used in similar ways, Parsnip has a much sweeter & earthy flavour, especially when cooked.It is a native of Eurasia and was widely cultivated by the Romans. It had pride of place then as it was widely used as a sweetener before the arrival of sugar cane in Europe.
Parsnips are very versatile, cheap and easy to prepare. It is usually served cooked but can also be eaten raw, try it grated into a salad or shredded into a slaw, it is extremely good boiled or steamed & puréed into a silky mash, alternatively try roasting it with herbs and Cumin, roasting will intensify the sugars in the vegetable, giving it a caramelised note or blitz it into a soup with a dash of Curry powderbaked into a cake or added to a soda bread, And, wait for it,  Yes , even blitzed into a creamy Hummus.
Winter is the perfect time to use parsnips as the cold temperature encourages the starch in the root to turn into sugars and are usually in season between September and late Spring. It is high in vitamins and minerals especially potassium, vitamin C fibre. Like the Potato, Parsnip will turn dark when exposed to air, so store it in water with a drop of lemon juice.
Nowadays, Parsnips features on many Michelin* Restaurant menu , either as Purée or as garnishes in the form of crisps,crackers and powders but they are also extensively used in  mirepoix for braised meats and stocks.
Herbs that are complimentary to parsnips are Basil, Dill, Parsley, Rosemary,Thyme & Tarragon and so are Curry, Cumin,Coriander, Paprika, fennel, Caraway, Honey, Mustard, Madeira, Yoghurt and sour cream.
Apart from all the usual jazzed-up parsnip mash, chips or simply roasted with honey and herbs, here are a few of my favourite ways in serving this great vegetable.

Parsnips Latkes                                                                                                makes 12

 Latkes are normally shallow fried pancakes of grated potato,onion and egg traditionally eaten during Hanukkah festival. Here I have substituted the potatoes with Parsnips or you could use a mixture of both.

  • 1 lb of Parsnips
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • 2 tbs of potato flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1small onion grated ( optional )
Peel and coarsely grate the parsnips. Put them straight into cold water, drain and place in a tea towel, twist and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible before mixing in the eggs and other ingredients.
Heat up some olive oil, and drop in a couple of spoonful of the mixture. Flatten down into a small cake and cook for 2-3 mins on each side until golden.
Drain on a rack as opposed to kitchen paper as they will be crispier that way.

Serve as
 a) Starter                                 Smoked salmon & Wasabi creme Cheese

               b) Brunch 
                Poached Egg , Mustard Creme fraiche ,Crispy streaky bacon & mustard greens 

               c) Minted yoghurt dip

For the Minted yoghurt dip :
  • 175 ml of Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients together,Chill and allow all flavours to develop before serving with the latkes. 

Parsnips Hummus :
The sweet flesh of the parsnips adds a comforting element to this condiment
  • 1 lbs of parsnips
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • 4 -5 tbsp of extra virgin oil ( more if required )
  • 1 tsp of caraway seeds ( to garnish )
Wash, peel and trim both ends of the parsnips and cut into large dice. Place in a small pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook until the tip of a knife goes in without resistance. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water.
When completely cooled, drain all the water and place in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients ( except the caraway seeds ) and blitz until smooth. ( adding more olive oil if required ). Season to taste and place in your serving dish.
In a small pan, heat up  a good drop of olive oil, When hot, add the caraway seeds, take off the heat and allow to infuse for a minute or so, then pour over the Hummus.

Serve with toasted pitta bread or crackers.

Parsnip Cake with Rosemary,olive oil, walnut & Maple syrup

  • 11/2 Cup of coarsely grated parsnip
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1 Cup of golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of chopped walnut
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of all spice
  • 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 180c.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a jug lightly whisk in the eggs, olive oil & maple syrup.  Pour into the dry mix and combine until well incorporated.
Grease and line a loose bottom cake tin. Pour the mixture in and bake for 40 mins. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle, it should come out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing . Use either glacé icing or a cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese frosting
  • 300 grms of light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon and the juice
Whisk the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth, add the icing sugar and lemon zest.
Finally add in the juice to taste. Chill briefly to thicken back and using a palette knife, spread the frosting over the cake. Decorate with sprig of fresh rosemary flowers.

So next time you see those little beauties, don't just window shop, pick up a bag of parsnip and give it a go. Enjoy.x

Tagged: robert jacob-parsnip-latkes-hummus-parsnip&rosemary cake-brunch-starter-sides-baking-smoked salmon-crispy bacon-poached eggs-cream cheese

©2012-2014;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved


No comments:

Post a Comment