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edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

WHAT’S IN SEASON PARSNIPS Celebrating a deceptively delicious and versatile winter root BY JAMIE COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAMILLA M. MANN Parsnips are one of my favorite root vegetables as their flavor is sweet yet complex and complements so many winter dishes. I’ve enjoyed them roasted with other roots for as long as I can remember, but my very first time cooking a rabbit is when I really fell for them. I wrapped the rabbit in bacon and roasted it in a pan filled with chunks of parsnips, butternut squash and purple sweet potatoes that I had covered in coconut milk seasoned with nutmeg and cardamom. ere was no going back—I was in love with the deep earthy flavor and buttery sweetness that the parsnip deployed and the way the coconut milk turned the roots into a rich dessert-like side dish. Parsnips are also especially appreciated by some of our local chefs. “I love their sweetness and their nutty quality, and they pair well with so many things, especially as we head into the colder season,” says Kendra Baker, who is the co-founder of Assembly Restaurant, e Picnic Basket and e Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz and provided the recipes for a parsnip ice cream and a parsnip gratin that accompany this story. “ey have a texture unto themselves that’s alluring— a real creaminess and real velvety texture, and also a counter texture akin to a pear.” “Parsnips are super underutilized; they have a high sugar content which makes them great in both savory and sweet preparations,” says Kyle Odell, previously chef at Carmel Belle who now applies his culinary creativity to cocktails at Cultura in Carmel. “My favorite and the most unique parsnip dish is one I made while working at a restaurant in a luxury resort in San Francisco—quail ragu on top of a parsnip custard. Basically you slice and peel the parsnips and cook them in milk, then buzz them up with a little olive oil. Use a basic custard recipe— 6 egg yolks, 1 whole egg, 1 pint of milk, 1 pint of cream and add 1 pint of the parsnip purée.” But even though parsnips’ flavor is quite delicious and versatile, one doesn’t often find parsnips for sale at the farmers’ market, and I only find a few limp specimens on grocery store shelves now and then. So where did parsnips come from and why aren’t they more popular? www.ediblemontereybay.com 15


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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