I am having a little trouble getting back into the swing of SippitySup this New Year. I don’t know if it was my trip to Panama (details coming soon, I promise) or the Holidays… or possibly even something less defined, but lazy is the order of the day in my kitchen these past few days.
Still we gotta eat and I gotta feed you, my virtual eaters, too. So who says simple can’t be spectacular?
But the thing about simple foods is in order for them to succeed you need to be sure the simple method you choose is not just simply a short cut, but rather the fast lane to perfection.
Root veggies are a great example of a food that can achieve perfection in the simplest of manners.
Sometime in our past we humans were digging around in the dirt and we hit about the idea of eating roots. The world has been a better place ever since!
There are many ways to enjoy these vegetables from the underworld, but roasting is just about my favorite. Roots such as parsnips and carrots are commonly roasted because it brings out their distinctive, rustic charm, and actually amplifies their inherent richness and bolsters the sugars in these vegetables.
Wait a sec. I am assuming you know and love these veggies as much as I do. Well, I suppose it’s okay to assume you know carrots. It is probably one of the first veggies you ever ate and Gerber probably supplied them. They are sweet and delicious raw or cooked.
But parsnips may be another matter entirely. Parsnips are the strange looking “white carrot”. You have probably seen them at the store. I find parsnips to be a tricky vegetable to choose in the market. They come in many sizes. I avoid any that are more than two inches in diameter at the widest point for most preparations, as they tend to go woody. You should also avoid those that are particularly small since they are not as economical, and will require more preparation time.
I like the parsnips that are roughly carrot sized. But parsnips are never the same exact proportions as carrots. Carrots tend to have a gradual taper and parsnips go from a wide top to a narrow pointy tip quite quickly. But in the roasting method I am about to describe this is a good thing because I like a varied texture in my roasted root veggies.
Once you have narrowed your choice down by size look for parsnips that are firm with a good creamy color without spots, blemishes, cuts, or cracks (cracks indicate woodiness). They should have a good, uniform shape (about 6 to 10 inches long) and should not be limp or shriveled. Parsnips like cool temperatures and dark places. Store them in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator and they’ll last two to four weeks. If little rootlets are still attached to the main root remove them before you store the parsnips to prevent moisture loss.
Somewhere along the line people began to peel and trim their root vegetables. This can be a good thing. But it’s not always necessary. Sometimes I like a more visual connection to the food I am eating. So when I roast carrots and parsnips I generally cut them lengthwise. Either in halves, or in quarters depending on their size. There is no need to peel the carrots, but parsnips do need to be peeled. I also leave the stem end attached and even an inch or so of greens when possible. Not only is this an attractive, rustic presentation but it leads to a wonderfully varied texture as well.
I like all the caramelization that happens when these veggies are roasted. I even like it when the tips of the parsnips get a bit burned. That way you have some bites that are soft and savory, and other bites with more tooth and a very defined flavor of burnt sugar! Yum
- 1.5 lb parsnips, peeled and halved or quartered, depending on size
- 2 lb carrots, halved lengthwise but left unpeeled
- 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 T thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the carrots and parsnips in a single layer in a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the half of the over them, then turn them over and drizzle the rest of the oil for an even coating. Season generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the thyme leaves over everything.
Roast the vegetables, turning them once or twice during cooking until the edges and tips begin to get quite brown and they a very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a serving platter, with an additional sprinkling of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil (optional). Serve warm.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD