Friday, December 7, 2007

The parnsip: not to be underestimated

How is it that I sit here at the end of a busy final week of classes and have more recipes to blog about than I ever have before?

Perhaps it's because my bag of spinach only lasted so long this week, and I had to get more creative with my meals than salad. Maybe it's because unexpected vegetables seemed to call to me from among the produce on my last shopping trip. But I think it is mostly because when I found a rare free hour here or there in the day, I was not quite tired enough to catch up on sleep. Instead, I found my creative juices beginning to drain away as writing assignments and rules of color and composition got to me, and to confirm to myself that I wasn't loosing it, I wanted to touch things with my hands, to create, to capture in time, and to click, click, click away with my little camera.

So, friends, the pictures have piled up and I'm in a bit of a predicament. I think I have made a decision about what to share with you tonight, but I will not describe my other options until after this delicious recipe because they are strong competition.

To sum up my thoughts on this late night, I shall simply say: life is richer and more delicious with parsnips. It is a confirmed fact. Just ask my eyes, nose, taste buds, and tummy. They were quite satisfied Tuesday night when I roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes together and even more delighted when I incorporated these sweet vegetables into a dainty frittata the next day.

I surprised myself with the purchase of parsnips over the weekend, but they had one of those eye-catching yellow tags beneath them and just looked so unpretentious, even though I suspected this to all be a charade. Beyond their appearance, there is nothing modest or plain about parsnips. Their bite is sweet and yet sharp and made for the cold season.

The idea of bringing forth the parsnip's sweetness led me to purchase a few sweet potatoes at the same time, and two nights later I was chopping up these beautiful colors and beginning to melt butter in a pan. I simply added a little brown sugar and balsamic vinegar to the barely bubbly butter until the taste was right, and then coated all the vegetables, sprinkled salt and pepper, and put them in the oven at 425°F until they could be easily pierced with a fork.

The result was plentiful enough to eat half immediately with the remainder of yesterday's polenta (divine!) and store away the rest for the frittata that had been brewing in my head the past twenty-four hours.

Honestly, the reason this frittata earned the adjective "dainty" is because I had fewer eggs than I expected when it came time to chop the sweet potatoes and parsnips smaller the next day. Nevertheless, I dove ahead, beating the five eggs I did have, adding a splash of Half & Half, about 1/3 cup of asiago cheese, dashs of allspice, salt, and pepper and then pouring all of this over the roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes as well as some scallions in the bottom of the pan at medium-high heat.

Tilting the pan to help move the raw egg in the middle out and back under the bottom layer as well as sticking the whole thing in a 350°F oven helped cook it without drying out.

The result was simply delicious!

So, after you have gone out and found some parsnips of your own and tried them in my frittata or told me how you found a different use for them, come back and check out what will be featured during and/or after finals week.

I may do the amazingly dark, cocoa-y cookies that promise either world peace or savage warfare. There is also the batch of cookies still warming the apartment tonight with its fennel-y scent. Or another irresistible pumpkin recipe involving pancake batter sprinkled with walnuts and dried fruit and drizzled with a spark of sweet orange.

Even my mouth is watering!


ksulis said...

Lael - I just found your blog in a strange internet click fest. I was on Orangette looking at an archived recipe for celeriac soup and really liked the blog. So I looked at the latest and was going to make a comment and yours was at the top. So...I went to your blog and now I am so worried I am addicted to food blogs. I love your latest entry - so amazing! I will definitely add you to my list! But I really wanted to write to tell you about 101cookbooks - Heidi just wrote a blog today about creating your own cookbook through TasteBook - check it out!

Lael said...

Kristin (I am writing this comment post-googling you): thank you so much for your comment and the 101 tip!