Roasted Parsnips. Who knew? The first bite out of the oven made my heart jump. One of the most delightfully fresh flavors ever. I’m not exaggerating one bit. The medley of cumin, lemon and olive oil roasted into these fall root vegetables make them a year round must for me. Plus, in Roman times they were considered an aphrodisiac. I believe them.
Buying locally grown food and eating seasonally is important to me. It just makes sense. Parsnips are perfect for winter storage in the root cellar when nothing grows. They are going in the garden immediately. Parsnips are frost tolerant, making them an ideal vegetable to grow in Idaho where we have a short growing season, but not well suited to rocky soil because of their root structure.
Gardeners suggest they taste best after the first frost, not unlike kale, cabbage and other vegetables. Waiting to eat a vegetable out of the garden after the first frost brings a satisfaction akin to waiting for a fine wine or cheese to age, but shorter. The first frost sweetens them by converting the starch to sugar. The cold will transform many bitter vegetables, such as kale and brussel sprouts. As a Norwegian, I can relate to that.
Parsnips are popular in Norway, where the winters are long. We often ate them growing up but they didn’t taste like this. Parsnips are a relative of the carrot, but sweeter and more nutritious; rich in potassium and high in fiber. Eat some when you have those middle of the night leg cramps. This is an ideal healthy snack too. I’m curious how long they will retain their flavor and freshness stored in the refrigerator.
The original recipe is from Kitchen of Light, by Andreas Viestad. His version tops the parsnips with salmon roe and a sauce made with olive oil, parsley and garlic, which sounds interesting. It’s something to try after the next trip to Ikea, where they sell Swedish salmon roe. Clearly, I like it my way – even if it was accidental.
As you can see, these baked too long resulting in an almost caramelized base. They were delicious. The caramelization created a textural contrast between the soft, meaty interior and the sweet, smoky, and chewy exterior. Wonderful. I’ll make them again without crisping them and report back on the results. The infusion of lemon and olive oil, combined with the cumin – which I loaded on rather heavily – created a sweet, light, and complex flavor that brightened my senses. The best way to describe this is happy food.
This recipe has not yet been cowboy tested, but two adults and one teen tried it. They reacted like I did. Their eyes opened wide and they said, “Whoa. What is this? It’s delicious!” These parsnips light people up. That’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say.
It bakes for 40 minutes, but if you don’t want them to burn (I prefer caramelize), keep an eye on them after 35 minutes. Do as I say, not as I did – if you want them to look prettier.
I roasted only two parsnips. Just to test the recipe. I will never make that mistake again.
Here’s how you make it:
2 parsnips, peeled and halved
2-3 tsp ground cumin
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (I used both fresh and dried)
1 garlic clove, minced fine
Cut parsnips in half, lengthwise. Cut off the top.
Place parsnips in a small baking dish.
Rub half the cumin into the flesh
Combine olive oil and lemon. Pour it over the parsnips.
Sprinkle garlic, remaining cumin and all the parsley over the parsnips. Try to keep it on the parsnips.
Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.
Photo: Maine Food and Lifestyle: http://blog.mainefoodandlifestyle.com/2010/05/spring-dug-parnsips-worth-the-wait.html