Lest week we covered our kitchen renovation saga at length. It was a fun termite infested walk down memory lane that helped is remember the project that turn us from soft newbie homeowners to hardened DIYers who can take on anything. We may have accomplished our goals, but it also made us thankful that project is behind us. Today we're going to switch gears a little bit from massive kitchen reconstruction to using our kitchen for one of those things it is supposedly meant for...cooking.

In my quest to try new vegetables this winter, I've discovered a new found obsession with Brussels Sprouts as well as an abhorrence of roasted turnips. (Is it just me, or do the turnips taste like sweaty feet?) Today's culinary challenge will focus on the parsnip. 

I recently had an amazing side dish at a restaurant that was a delicious concoction of diced roasted carrots and parsnips in a decadent creamy sauce. For my efforts here at home I want to level the playing field in my comparisons and are therefore am preparing all of the veggies in a similar fashion -- dressed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted until tender. My feeling is that we'll get a true taste of the natural flavors of the vegetable, rather than it being a comparison of recipes.

After preheating my oven to 425 degrees, I cleaned and peeled my one pound bag of parsnips.

Oddly enough, a recipe I found online (which I used as a rough guide) indicated the parsnips should be peeled but the carrots should not. I have no idea why (anyone have any ideas on that?), but followed the instructions to clean my roughly half pound of carrots. 

Next up, I cut the parsnips and carrots into approximately one inch pieces, cutting the larger sections of vegetables in half lengthwise.

After placing the cut vegetables on a baking sheet, I drizzled them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.

And then sprinkled them with fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste.

Next up, I roasted them in the oven tossing them once until the vegetables were tender and golden brown (just under 30 minutes in our oven). After removing them from the oven, I sprinkled them with freshly chopped parsley I had on hand for a little extra color. 

And the result? They were sweet and tender, and what I would classify as an overall success. I preferred the taste of the carrots to the parsnips, but still enjoyed them both. They weren't nearly as delicious as the restaurant version I previously mentioned, but then again, they weren't soaked in butter and cream either. 

I'd definitely make them again, but will try out a few new recipes to change them up a bit. One reader suggested adding rosemary and honey to parsnips, which sounds pretty darn amazing. In my opinion though, Brussels Sprouts are still king. 

Is anyone else a fan of parsnips? Are there other vegetables you've been experimenting with? Any votes for what I should try next? Rutabaga, if I can find it, could be a contender. (Update: I just learned that turnips and rutabagas are the same thing. :-) Any other suggestions?)

Comments 7

Comments

JC
3/5/2012 at 8:29 PM
LOL! A rutabaga and a turnip are the same thing. Just so ya know. Google images if you don't believe me :)

I've had Parsnips only once, and I thought they were alright.

If you haven't tried it yet, Anise (or Fennel) is an interesting vegetable. It's very similar to celery (texture wise, and preparation wise), but with a mild black licorice flavour. I wouldn't say that it's awesome, but definitely worth exploring. I tried it in a stew, but it would be really good in a stir fry.

One vegetable that I use quite frequently (mainly in stir fries) is Bok Choy, which has nearly no flavour, but adds a nice texture (similar to celery, but even milder flavour).

If you want to try new fruits as well, I'd recommend Red Pomello (or Pumello there's a few different spellings). It's like a giant green grapefruit (bright red inside) but it's already sweet. You have to peel each individual piece, which is tedious, but it's really good. Honey Pomello is very similar, but it's less juicy, and has a more bland flavour (but I still enjoy these also).
Wendy
3/5/2012
Oh my gosh, that's hilarious. I had no idea! Well I guess I can cross rutabagas off my list. :-)

(Love Bok Choy by the way!)
Nikki
3/6/2012 at 9:37 AM
I did a farm share last year and ended up getting some celery root. I used it in a soup recipe and it seemed pretty good! Also, if you roast extra of any veggies you can always take them right out of the roasting pan, heat a little butter or oil, saute some onions and garlic and then add the veggies with some chicken or veggie stock to simmer and then puree for roasted veggie soup. I especially love to do this with a large squash where I'm never going to eat all that roasted squash :) Also, try a blue hubbard!
Wendy
3/6/2012
Great tips, thanks Nikki. A blue hubbard? I'm going to have to google that one! ;-) I love a good squash though so I might have to give that one a try.
3/6/2012 at 1:17 PM
Just a clarification that will probably only add to the confusion between turnip and rutabaga. Like with geometry, all rutabagas are turnips but not all turnips are rutabagas.

The simplest diversion is based on color - white versus yellow. White turnips (also commonly called purple-tops in the USA) are Brassica rapa rapa and are what is commonly sold as "turnips" in the USA. Yellow turnips are Brassica napobrassica (or Brassica napus) and are known by a variety of names including rutabaga (USA) and swede (England - aka Swedish turnip). Confusion continues to rain because even within the British Isles, they can't agree on what to call them! If you ask a Scottish farmer for a turnip (or "neep" as they are better known), you will get a swede (Brassica napobrassica), but ask him for a swede and you will get a turnip (Brassica rapa rapa).

After years of trying to resolve this difference between what I ate here and in the UK, I developed an easy rule - If it is white, it is a turnip. If it is yellow, it is a swede in England, a rutabaga in the USA, or a neep in Scotland.

As far as eating them, I really like swedes! They make wonderful roasted veg and are a nice addition to a hearty winter soup. Turnips, while good in certain places, aren't as good. Maybe that is just because I prefer winter foods (hearty roasts & soups) to lighter summer fair!
Wendy
3/6/2012
Your knowledge of the turnip is amazing!

I had tried the purple topped variety, so from your comment it seems that I haven't actually tried a rutabaga yet? Hmmm, maybe it will go back on the list since you say it tastes better than a turnip.

When I lived in the UK, I stuck mostly to canned mushy peas and chocolate McVities. No wonder I'm having a turnip/rutabaga/swede identity crisis! LOL
3/7/2012 at 12:26 PM
I do miss McVities! And, I generally only ate mushy pies at pubs with fish & chips.

Btw, if you want to try growing some blue hubbard squash, I have some seeds at home for them ... but the plants do get pretty big and the squash can be anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds!
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