Spring is a good time to try something new– this year make it parsnips. Compared to potatoes, parsnips have over a third fewer net carbs and more protein. They are packed with folate and other vitamins and minerals. Even though parsnips are related to carrots and parsley, their texture when roasted is much more like that of potatoes, but with a distinctive flavor. You don’t need to eat a plate of them to feel satisfied–just a few bites are heavenly. Roasted parsnips can be rewarmed by mixing into skillet dishes like eggs with sautéed greens, or just cold to give salads a little bulk.
We’ve combined parsnips with a rhubarb sauce to make a refreshing yet savory starter dish–it’s good with the parsnips warm, at room temperature, or even out of the refrigerator. Little plates of interesting bites are on most restaurant menus, and can be practical at home if you make enough for leftovers– incorporate them into other dishes and spread the investment of time. This one fits the bill–the sauce can be thinned and drizzled on salads, used as a dip with other vegetables, or served with fruit. It’s beautiful and satisfying!
Directions for Roasted Parsnips:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice parsnips in half lengthwise. Brush both sides of parsnips with olive oil–I use a silicone brush to do this. Bake with cut side down on parchment for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and salt (and pepper, if desired) to taste. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Directions for Rhubarb Sauce:
Rinse rhubarb stalks and cut 2 cups of them into into roughly ¾ inch sections. Wash and peel the red beets and cut 2 cups of them into same size pieces as rhubarb. Place the rhubarb and beet pieces in a wide saucepan with the vinegar and simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the beets start to soften; the rhubarb cooks very quickly.
Note: The order in which the ingredients are incorporated varies depending on whether you are using a food processor or blender. Food processors tend to leak out the bottom if too much liquid is added first, so solids go in at the outset. On the other hand, many blenders can’t chop up vegetable matter if it gets placed in the bottom before the liquid. Follow the directions below.
If mixing in a food processor: Add the contents of the saucepan to the bowl of the food processor and using the on-off pulse method, incorporate the ingredients until they reach a uniform consistency. Add the olive oil through the feed tube while the motor is running, then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If adding the optional fish sauce, do it now and incorporate again.
If mixing in a blender: Add all the ingredients except the rhubarb and beet mixture from the saucepan into the blender, and puree. Then add the contents of the saucepan and puree again. Adjust the seasoning, and incorporate. If adding the optional fish sauce, do it now and run the blender for a few seconds again.