Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carrots and Parsnips

Today I have two recipes for you, each featuring carrots and parsnips. Parsnips look like white carrots, and they taste like slightly sweeter, more floral carrots.

Carrots and parsnips 1

It took me a little hunting to turn up parsnips around here, but I finally found them at Walmart (random! We were there for an emergency car kit...).  Look for parsnips that are smaller - no more than 1 inch in diameter. The bigger ones are tougher and more fibrous.

The first recipe features this pairing as the star of the dish - it's great for getting to know parsnips.

The second uses the duo to lighten up a holiday tradition - potato pancakes, or latkes. Although the switch-up makes them less traditional, these cakes add the nutritional punch of carrots and parsnips to the potato, and their flavor is a sweet twist on the classic.

I call for 1 pound of carrots and 1 pound of parsnips in the first recipe, because that's the size bag they were both sold in (and I wanted to avoid awkward leftover ingredients). If you want to make both recipes, but only have one pound of each veggie, you won't hurt the first recipe by reserving one carrot and one parsnip.

In either recipe, you could always substitute more carrots for the parsnips if you can't find parsnips, but the parsnips really do add something different to the flavor of the dishes.

Carrots and parsnips 3

Skillet-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Yield: 4-6 side dish servings

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces on the bias (see photo below)
1 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces on the bias
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp oil
Parsley, about 1 tbsp chopped fresh, or 1/2 tsp dried
Black pepper to taste

Carrots and parsnips 2

1. Wash, peel, and chop the veggies as directed.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the sugar, salt, water, and oil. Add the carrots, and cover (either with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil), and simmer for about 7 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
3. Uncover, increase the heat slightly, and add the parsnips. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates, about 10 minutes. Watch them more carefully now, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots and parsnips are browned but not burnt.
4. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and pepper to taste. Serve warm. 

If you turn up the heat too high during step 3 to try to speed the process, you risk burning your veggies - and they will burn quickly. Don't rush it. (Experience speaking here.)

And now for something we hope you'll really like:
Healthy latkes

Healthy Potato Pancakes
Adding carrots and parsnips to the mix, and using a very light hand with the oil makes these a healthier option over their practically deep-fried cousins. 
Yield: 15 small cakes

1 carrot, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1 russet potato, grated
1 egg
1 tsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1-2 tbsp canola oil
To serve: Greek yogurt, sour cream, or applesauce

1. Grate the carrot, parsnip, and potato. Place the grated veggies in a bowl, and press down on them with a few paper towels to absorb any liquid that you can.
2. Whisk together egg, flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the grated veggies, and stir gently to combine.
3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop about 2 tablespoons of mix per cake into the pan. Don't over-crowd the pan - I was able to fit 5 at a time in a very large skillet.
4. Cook cakes for 4 to 6 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat.
5. Remove cakes to a paper-towel lined plate to drain excess oil. Add 1-2 tsp oil, as needed, each time you put new cakes in the pan.
6. Serve warm with Greek yogurt, sour cream, or applesauce.

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