Parsnips have taken over the vegetable drawer in my fridge. They grow very well in the Pacific Northwest, if they germinate. I regularly have them reaching into the clay subsoil under my raised beds. Last week, not thinking, I ordered a couple of pounds from Sunbow Farm, then cleared out a garden bed, where five huge roots were lurking. Even after passing off two in a Twelfth Night bag, I have a surplus. And the creeping knowledge that I did not dig them all two weeks ago….
I have turned my cookbooks for inspiration. My mother’s old Betty Crocker suggests cooking them in butter, which is not a bad idea. Joy of Cooking bakes them with butter and sugar—too sweet for my taste. Alice Waters considers grilling them—a classic California option for every vegetable, and The Greens cookbooks have no plans at all to ever cook parsnips. I came across an occasional parsnip-potato mash from the 1980’s New Basics and the regularly featured roasted winter vegetables. Meanwhile, the parsnips were taking up considerable real estate in the fridge and I needed some new ideas. Then I hit the cookbooks from the British Isles. One book suggested a parsnip-cheese soup, which was amazingly good. Another hinted at a root veggie pasty, which I converted into a root veg calzone of parsnips, beets, potatoes, and carrots. Finally, while browsing a new cookbook from Ireland, I found a parsnip cake! Victory was at hand. There is only one parsnip left in the veggie bin—until I need to clean out the last garden bed.
The week looked something like this:
Monday: Parsnip cheese soup
Tuesday: rooty calzone
Wednesday: Roasted veg and rice
Thursday: Greens and tofu (we needed a break)
Friday: Baked potatoes and parsnip cake
Saturday—split pea soup with parsnips, potatoes, and carrots
Sunday—casserole with potatoes, fennel, leeks, and parsnips
Make the dough—1 t of yeast, in 1.5 cups of water. Add 2 t of sugar to feed the yeast and proof.
Add 3 T of olive oil, 1 t of salt, 1.5 cups of white flour, and 1.5 cups of wheat flour. Mix and knead gently. Allow to rest and rise for about an hour.
Make the filling, which is totally flexible:
1 leek, sliced
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, sliced
3 small potatoes chopped
2 or 3 small beets, peeled and chopped
Cook in olive oil and red wine until tender. Toss in a cup or so of grated cheddar.
Divide the dough into four chunks and roll out into circles. I put the circles onto the baking sheet before filling them… Place the filling on half of the circle, flop dough over the filling, and seal with water.
Bake in 350 degree oven until bubbly and brown.