Sunday, April 18, 2010

roasted parsnip fries

roasted parsnips
i love fries that are
super crisp on the outside
and meltingly tender
inside. i also love
fries that are just
really, really crisp.

these fries?
well, they're

it's just a fact - parsnips,
like sweet potatoes,
never fully reach
their crunch potential.
but, they do taste delicious.

and, if you opt to call them
something different,
like say,
roasted parsnips,
no one will ever complain
about the texture.
they'll be too busy realizing
they've spent way too long
ignoring parsnips.

at least,
that was what happened with me.
i blame it on carrots.
and turnips.
i've told you before that i'm
not crazy about carrots. and once,
a while ago, i had my first turnip
and instantly knew that i did not
care for it. so parsnips,
which look like white carrots
and are often lumped in with
turnips in everyday conversations,
were quickly swept into the
no, thank you pile.
parsnips, peeled
then, a couple years ago,
i was served a parsnip, roasted,
and i could not believe what
i was tasting: earthy, sweet,
deep-flavored and truly tender
vegetables that were hard to forget.

i've made them many times
since, very simply tossed
with olive oil and roasted.
and to be honest,
this side dish didn't really
seem like one worth
telling you about.
doesn't everyone toss their
veggies with oil
and roast them
these days?

but the last time i went to
make them - feeling funny
because it's spring and i should
be talking about
and asparagus - larry asked
why i haven't blogged about these
tender veggies.

and he's right.
they're often the right answer to
a very popular question in my house:
what should i serve this with?
once they're peeled and trimmed,
they're very quick to toss together:
just a little vinegar,
a little olive oil,
some cayenne, salt and pepper.
and, when they come out of the oven
sweet and golden,
they're just waiting to be eaten
a little improperly with fingers,
not forks and knives.
parsnip peels
parsnips, vinegar, olive oil, cayenne
so i took some pictures -
some very, very white,
bland pictures that the
magazine i used to work
for would never approve of -
and made myself measure
out ingredients. and when
they were done, they were
not crisp, not crunchy,
but yummy.

and if you can rationalize,
as i can, that spring
vegetables are just (just) starting
to show their green selves in
the markets. and today, at least,
it's freezing outside - much more a day
for roasted root veggies that
are admittedly a little bit autumn,
than for grilled fava beans,
which usually belong smack in
the middle of april,
i hope you'll be able to enjoy them
as much as we do.
roasted parsnip fries
roasted parsnip fries
here's the deal with parsnips: smaller ones can be cut and quartered. larger ones, which yield a larger quantity of sticks (usually eight), need to be slightly cored. it's your call - here, i used five medium-large parsnips. and, one more thing, using two baking pans will increase your chances of getting even a little bit of crispness out of some of your parsnips. when you force all pieces to share one baking sheet, they're too close together, causing them to steam, not roast.

5 medium-large parsnips, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
cayenne pepper

heat oven to 425˚f.

quarter one parsnip; cut cores out of centers. halve each piece lengthwise. you should have 8 parsnip fries. repeat with remaining parsnips.

in bowl, toss together parsnips, vinegar, olive oil, 2-3 pinches cayenne pepper and a few very healthy pinches salt and pepper. arrange parsnips in single on two parchment paper or aluminum foil-lined baking sheets, separating to make sure there is space around each parsnip.

roast 12 minutes; flip parsnips. sprinkle with a little salt and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. roast 12-14 minutes more, or until golden brown and tender. (i usually start looking in the oven after about 10 minutes.

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