Root Vegetable Lust: Parsnips

The glamorous root vegetable commentary continues.  Thank you so much for hanging in…

Parsnips.  These voluptuous, elongated, leafy, under-the-radar, glamorous vegetables are standing up prominently in the winter markets.  Who knew they were this wonderful?

When I think about what I really want to eat as the light hours wane and the darkness prevails (20 days and counting until the pendulum starts swinging the other way…), I want what we all want: comfort food.  Remarkably, vegetables can be comfort food, as well. Here’s how.

Parsnips, like carrots, have huge hidden sweetness, and they change dramatically when cooked.  That means they respond to being roasted or sauteed as ways of drawing their latent sugar (and thereby deepening their flavor) to the surface.  Simple cooking technique; big benefit.  Even steaming the vegetables for just five minutes, then dousing them with a bit of a great olive oil and a toss of herbed salt will cause you to rethink dinner.

I’m the first to say I love both parsnips and carrots in their raw form.  As kids, we all learned what raw carrots were like.  I don’t know about you, but I never ate raw parsnips as a child.  It turns out that raw parsnips are tender and crunchy and slightly spicy.  When sauteed or steamed, both carrots and parsnips actually become more full- and deeply-flavored.

So, saute a small minced onion in olive oil until tender.  Slowly saute 3/4 C Carnaroli or Arborio (short grain Italian) rice in the onion-olive oil mixture, stirring frequently, to toast.  Begin spooning ladles of white stock (yet another use) into the rice mixture, with heat on low, and allow the mixture to cook slowly.  Add additional ladles of stock as it’s absorbed.

Choose how you’d like cook the vegetables: saute in olive oil slowly for 5-7+ minutes until tender to the tooth but not over-cooked, or steam for 5 minutes in salted water.

Stir a handful of great, grated cheese, (Manchego, Romano, etc) into the rice, then stir in 1/3 C fresh (or frozen) peas.  Plate the rice and top with the (luscious!) vegetables.

You’ll forget that it’s dark outside.  The light’s in the kitchen.

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