Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
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Amongst the tried and true staples of our winter boxes - the
Brussels sprouts, the cabbage, carrots, beets, and cooking greens, etc. - we
have two new goodies: a beautiful mix of tender baby Asian greens (mei qing
choi and tatsoi), and something we don't get often: parsnips! This is another
much-maligned veggie, like Brussels sprouts, which does not deserve a lowly
reputation. I hope by now you've all learned that preconceived ideas of not
liking certain veggies can be blown out of the water when you taste the
real thing, in season, freshly harvested. So
enjoy your new bounty this week! I don't know about you, but by the end of the
second week during winter, the pickings in my fridge are pretty slim and I am
looking forward to being re-supplied! - Debbie
In appearance, parsnips look like big white carrots. They
are mildly sweet, and when cooked have a mouth-feel like sweet potato. Like a
carrot, though, they can be eaten raw or cooked. I've never tried just eating a
whole one raw, like a carrot Bugs Bunny-style (that's not to say it isn't good
this way... I just haven't tried it!) - but I could definitely see grating them
into salads, or making a mixed-grated-raw salad with parsnips, carrots and
beets, and maybe some diced apple! (In reading up about them, I see that when
they're really big, i.e. 2" in diameter, they have a woody core that you have
to cut out. Fortunately I've confirmed with Tom that the ones we'll be getting
are much smaller, more like carrot sized, and so should not have this issue.)
Parsnips can be cooked many ways... simmered in soups until meltingly soft;
roasted; steamed; pan browned; let's see what recipe ideas I have in my files!
A note about prep: all the recipes I see talk about peeling them first. I'm
skeptical, and suspect that this is, like with beets and carrots and potatoes,
not a requirement. I will go the 'sturdy veggie scrub brush
' route myself and leave the peel on!
Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Meyer Lemons
modified from an undated Bon Appetit clipping
4 to 5 carrots, peeled or scrubbed, cut diagonally into
4 to 5 parsnips, peeled or scrubbed, cut diagonally into 1/8-inch
20 garlic cloves, peeled <--- try substituting 1/8-inch
slices of leek?
1 Meyer lemon, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into
1/8-inch slices (seeds removed)
coarse kosher salt or sea salt
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
I learned from reading in Jesse Cool's cookbook "Your
Organic Kitchen" that parsnips have a fair amount of sugar in them, and so when
roasted, the residue make cleaning a chore - so she suggests lining your pan
with parchment paper (I wouldn't recommend foil, because of the lemon). Sounds
like a good suggestion! - Debbie
Prepare two baking sheets - either coat lightly with oil, or
lay down a sheet of parchment in each (I'd do the latter). Preheat oven to 375
Combine carrots, parsnips, garlic [or leek slices] and lemon
slices in a bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle
liberally with salt (about 1 1/2 tsp.) and toss again.
Spread prepared veggies evenly over the two pans, in a
single layer. Roast 20 minutes, stir, reverse position of baking sheets (i.e. put upper one on lower rack and visa-versa) and
continue roasting until veggies are tender and browned around the edges, about
another 20 minutes.
Transfer veggies to a serving platter, drizzle with
additional olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Season with pepper and
additional salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Parsnip and Apple Soup
Bon Appetit, March 2003
3 tbsp. butter
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts finely chopped,
dark green parts reserved
5 large parsnips (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled [or scrubbed!]
and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium Fuji apples [what's in our box!], peeled, cored,
and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 C (or more) water
1 1/2 C whole milk
Large pinch of sugar
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add
leeks, parsnips, and apples. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to soften,
stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add 4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce
heat to medium. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture with milk in
blender until smooth, thinning soup with more water if desired. Return soup to
pot. Season soup with sugar, salt, and pepper.
Cut up enough reserved green parts of leeks into
matchstick-size strips to measure 1 cup. Cook in medium saucepan of boiling
water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
Bring soup to a simmer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with leek
strips and serve.
I love the sound of this next one... it is a bit more
involved, and we're not getting dill or anything... but you could substitute
dried dill in a pinch! It is just interesting in that, instead of your typical
pureed soup, this features a clear broth with little parsnip and beet nuggets
Parsnip and Beet Soup with Dill Cream
from "Your Organic Kitchen" by Jesse Cool
Jesse says, "The flavors and appearance of this passionately
purple soup are balanced beautifully by the tart creaminess of the sour cream.
In my restaurant we serve this soup on Valentine's Day accompanied by
6 C vegetable or chicken broth
1 lb. parsnips, cut into small cubes
6 beets, trimmed and scrubbed [sure, use some red and some
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 whole cloves
3 whole peppercorns
3 tbsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 C sour cream
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill [or 2 tsp. dried]
Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over high
heat. Add the parsnips. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10
minutes, or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the parsnips to a bowl.
Add the beets, shallot, cloves, and peppercorns to the
simmering broth. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beets are
tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beets to the cutting board, reserving
the liquid. When the beets are cool, slip off the skins. Cut into small cubes.
Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a
large bowl. Return the broth to the pot. Add the parsnips, beets, and sugar.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, green onion, and
Ladle soup into 6 bowls and top each with a dollop of the
sour cream mixture.
Okay, on to some recipes for other box goodies!
Savory Cilantro and Meyer Lemon "tea"
This is something I was inspired to try because I'd recently
been making a simple mint tea (just fresh mint steeped in boiling water - very
fragrant and wonderful!). So I thought, hm, I wonder if this could be done with
cilantro, which becomes quite aromatic when added to soups and other hot
dishes? The answer, I now know, is yes!
So just take a small handful of cilantro sprigs - stems and
leaves... you could even use the root, as long as it is very clean from dirt -
and put it in a mug, along with a small slice of Meyer lemon (with peel), then
fill with boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes or so, then sip away!
Shitake Spring Rolls with Strawberry Dipping Sauce
Okay, I'm making this one up for you guys, based on info
from a few different recipes and what we have in the box!
What you're going to do is prepare various filling
ingredients, then have them handy to wrap up in the rice wrappers (I'll explain
steps below). Pretty simple really.
Spring roll wrappers or rice paper wrappers (found at Asian
markets; will keep indefinitely)
Some Tatsoi/mei qing choi mix - wash, coarsely chop, steam
until just starting to wilt then remove from heat, run under a little cold
water to stop cooking, squeeze out water, and set aside.
Some shitake mushrooms - Tom says these are baby, so you can
use them whole, stems and all. Saute them briefly in a little olive oil to
soften, then set aside.
Some grated carrot
Some grated parsnip
A little very thinly sliced radicchio leaf, for color and
Several cilantro sprigs
Strawberry dipping sauce
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp.sesame oil
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. strawberry preserves [from Happy Girl Kitchen!]
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve at room
The rice paper wraps are a bit tricky to work with, but
you'll get the hang of it. The trick is to work quickly, while the wrap is
still supple but not yet limp (they can tear easily), so make these one at a
Fill a pie plate or bowl with warm water. Immerse one sheet
of rice paper for a few seconds, then remove to a kitchen towel on a work
surface and let rest about 30 seconds until it's more pliable.
Arrange some of each of the prepared filling ingredients
down the middle of the wrapper in a small log-shape, leaving plenty of margin
on all sides.
Then wrap the ingredients burrito-style, folding one edge
over the ingredients (try to tuck the filling a bit to keep it snug), folding
in the two ends, then rolling the rest of the way, forming a cylindrical shape.
Transfer roll to a plate, seam side-down, and continue
making more, until you run out of filling ingredients!
Cut rolls in half on the diagonal and serve with strawberry
Note: I don't recommend refrigerating these. The rice paper
wraps tend to get tough. Try to make them when you plan on eating them fresh.
They can stay at room temp for a while; the filling is only veggies!