Saturday, January 19, 2008

in which the locavore discovers one of his roots

After an afternoon of grubbing bamboo out of the 1'x5' bed in front of the house, I ran to the local co-op for some staples. As a reward for winning an argument with myself over which greens were best ($1 red cabbage beat wimpy-looking kale), I decided to take a chance on a bagful of parsnips. They're local and seasonal, I told myself, climate-appropriate, and new and exciting.

Oh man. I had no idea just how exciting. If you must know, they were this exciting:

If you're like me and have never had parsnips before, they're like a cross between a carrot and a potato. They're starchy like potatoes, but sweet and carrot-looking. (According to the genius box, Romans used the same word for them as for carrots.) I'd say they're sweeter than carrots, though. They're like tuber candy!

We took a recipe from Edible Chesapeake, combined it with some improvised fried collards, and got a sort of all-local cousin of colcannon. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS WE COULD NOT STOP EATING IT.

(See our recipe by clicking on "Full Post" below.)

Chesapeake "Colcannon" (J & M '08)

2 lb parsnips, peeled & cut into ~1"-thick rounds
1/2 lb potatoes (about 2 medium), cut into ~1"-thick rounds
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup milk, or enough to make a smooth creamy mash
~2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 big handfuls collard or other greens
1-2 shakes garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic) (optional)
Liquid Smoke (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place parsnips and potatoes in a large pot, cover with lightly salted water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook until just tender, about 10-15 minutes.

While root veggies are cooking, heat olive oil in another pot. Sauté onions until golden. Add collards with a little bit of water, just enough to coat the bottom. Sauté until collards are dark green and have cooked down, tossing in some garlic powder and a dash of liquid smoke.

Drain parsnips and potatoes in a colander (you can save the water to thicken soups). Return to the pot, place over high heat until excess moisture evaporates (~1 minute). Add butter to the root veggies. Use potato masher to make smooth mixture. Continue mashing while adding milk. Stir in greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Bean said...

Maria knows my mom, but did you know she's a parsnip fanatic?? Growing up I was faced with seeing parsnips on the table and horrified at the idea of having to eat such a thing (I thought they smelled funny, i.e. different, therefore I wouldn't touch them). It turns out that instead, the parsnips were 99% for her with a smidge for me and my dad.

Her trick is just to cook them a bit, and then put some salt, pepper and a smidge of butter. They're amazing that way if you want to try to real flavour of a parsnip. They're also amazing in mashed potatoes.

Mama Monster said...

Wow! I can't believe you're just discovering the wonderfulness of parsnips. I LOVE parsnips, though I must admit that I wish I had more recipes to use them in. Parsnips Rock!