Monday, January 31, 2011

Parsnips and My Wish List

Last year I attempted to do a different dumpling each month. Well, I did a few and I failed. I also was going to blog from Greece, but technology and I just don’t get along. I did a few Greek recipes and will do others, I promise. In order to fail, one has to try, so I am going to try again. What can I say, my head is somewhat hard.

It’s a new year and time for a new beginning. This time I am going to do dishes that I have always wanted to do, but just could never find a good excuse to make them. After all, what’s a blog good for? I made what I’m calling my wish list. When I first showed the list to my student her reply was, why Dr. Jones do you realize that you only have baking stuff on your wish list? Where are the vegetables? Out of the mouths of babes. I defended my list by stating that macaroni was made from wheat and that was a plant, therefore, mac ‘n cheese should count as a vegetable. At this point, she just rolled her eyes and sighed. I relented and added vegetables to the list. I am particularly interested in Asian vegetables since I know very little about them. As the year progresses, if I find some really unusual vegetable at my local farmers market, I’ll see what I can do with it.

If you want to add to my list, please do so. If there is something about food that you are dying to find out, let me know if you think we can help out. We love to experiment with food. A friend of mine has already added red rice to the list. Red rice is a dish commonly found in low country cooking. To see what I will be making this year, click on the Wish List at the top of this page.

To get this Wish List moving along I am starting with parsnips. I have recently rediscovered parsnips. Maybe it was the butter and brown sugar, but they were quite tasty. While Europeans are quite taken with the parsnip, Americans tend to overlook this vegetable. Parsnips have a relatively high starch content and can stand in for potatoes. They combine well with carrots, potatoes and other winter root vegetables. Parsnips can be used in soups, roasted, sautéed, and mashed.

A ½ cup serving of parsnips contain only 55 calories, 2.8 g of dietary fiber, 286 mg of potassium and 45 mcg of folate.

Parsnips are a root vegetable and a member of the umbelliferae family which also includes carrots, celery, fennel and parsley. In fact, parsnips look like white carrots. To make my parsnips, I am going to stick with something simple. When cooking vegetables on a weeknight, ‘quick and easy’ suit my needs. I am making my parsnips using a steam/sauté method. You first add liquid, seasoning and fat to a small amount of water. Cook the vegetables with the lid on until they begin to soften. Remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate. What you end up with is vegetables that are glazed and ready to eat.

Weeknight Parsnips

Serves 4.

About 4 to 5 parsnips
¼ cup water
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Peel and cut parsnips into desired shape.

2. Heat water, butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Add parsnips and stir. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking until water has evaporated and parsnips are glazed.

Note: Any root vegetable can be prepared in a similar manner. Try this recipe with carrots, turnips or rutabagas. Enjoy!