Great news! I just heard that Riverbank Farm’s delicious spring parsnips are available at the Westport and Fairfield Farmers’ Markets, so be sure to stop in this week to pick some up. Spring parsnips are quite sweet and are excellent when prepared as a soup. Last year I made soup from a recipe in Michel Nischan’s newest cookbook, Sustainably Delicious, and the entire family loved it. After some time roasting in the oven and then on the stove simmering with water (thank you Michel for not making me make stock again!), it was ready to be pureed with some seasonings and served.
Most parsnip soup recipes call for butter and stock, and sometimes bacon (this vegetable doesn’t need any crutches!), but I much prefer this recipe and the cooking methods used because they result in a super-healthy yet intensely flavored dish that’s easy to make. Happily, the entire cookbook is full of recipes like this and I’ve enjoyed thumbing through it for inspiration as I source seasonal ingredients from local farms. You can experience Michel’s cooking firsthand as he demonstrates healthy recipes at 11 am on March 26 at the 2nd annual Food for Thought Expo at Warde High School in Fairfield.
Food & Wine magazine recently featured a recipe for baked parsnip bacon (chips), but it needed tweaking. These are excellent served as a snack or with drinks. A big bowl at the dinner table will ensure that vegetables are part of the meal. I assure you that they are much more work than the soup, but they are worth making at least once! Here’s how I recommend making them:
Baked Parsnip Chips
1) Wash and peel parsnips.
2) Slice thin lengthwise using a mandoline (forget using a knife; uniformity is key) OR slice them into coins using a food processor.
3) Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and brush with grapeseed or organic canola oil (regular canola oil in genetically modified).
4) Cover the lined pan with the parsnip strips or coins, fitting them very closely together (they shrink a lot), brush lightly (or spray) with oil and sprinkle with your best salt (smoked is a great choice).
5) Lay a cake cooling rack upside down on top of the strips to keep them flat and bake in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until done. Cooking time will vary depending upon the thickness of the parsnip strips or coins.
6) Check often and remove from the oven when they are dry and crispy, but not burned. You may have to remove some chips from the tray and put the rest back in the oven. They should be light to medium brown, never dark brown or they will be bitter.
7) Let cook before serving.