Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Parsnips, Turnips and Beets, Oh My!

When I was a kid, I was a picky eater. I mean, really picky. I did not even like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or chocolate ice cream. Or ketchup. Nothing could be touching anything else. Many children are picky. (Mine sure are -- just punishment for me, I guess). I was similarly picky even after college. And if someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be eating Wild Rice with Root Vegetables and Apples (recipe to follow) I would have laughed in his or her face.

Some people probably love the winter vegetables. But I think many people don't think of turnips, beets, parsnips and kale as high on their lists of "must haves" and "favorites." I can't really picture someone keeping a stash of turnips in her desk drawer at work. Or sneaking to the refrigerator at night for one more bite of kale.

Anyway, I am here to tell you, as a reformed picky eater (oh, who am I kidding, I'm still picky, just try to put a condiment on anything I'm eating, and you will see), that these things are not bad. In fact, I'd have to say that kale is quite enjoyable and I can definitely tolerate the turnips, parsnips and beets. My husband did too, though I can't say he wolfed his dinner down. It was his first time eating any of those things, though and he did finish his portion. Why should you eat something that is just tolerable? Because it is local. It is in season. And it is getting cold (plus, I got the root veggies through my CSA and the kale is cheap). Plus, they are really good for you.

So anyway, this recipe if from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Wild Rice Salad with Root Vegetables and Apples

4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 beets, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 to 3 cups tart apples, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons thyme, minced
1 1/2 cups wild rice
7 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, washed, stripped from tough center stalk and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, squash, onions, apples, olive oil and thyme in a large roasting pan and toss thoroughly to combine. Roast approximately one hour, until vegetables are fork-tender.

In a separate pot, bring rice and chicken stock to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 55-60 minutes until desired texture is reached; any excess liquid should be drained.

Meanwhile, saute bacon in a large saucepot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat until edges begin to brown. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds, without letting garlic scorch. Add kale and continue sauteing until kale wilts and softens, 3 to 4 minutes.

Combine ingredients in a large pot or the roasting pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves 12 as a side dish.
-- Amy McConnell Schaarsmith

We ate this as a main dish, but I think it would be better as a side (as it is supposed to be) -- perhaps with some kind of steak as a main course. Or maybe I am just iron deficient. Anyway, I would start the beets and parsnips before the other veggies. Or cut them much smaller. Also, I had to up the heat (or we would still be waiting) to 425. It worked out great that way. And last, I only used four cups of broth to cook the rice. And I had to drain some of it. We used bacon from Heilman's Hogwash Farm purchased at the Strip District Farmer's at the Firehouse Saturday market. The wild rice was not local, sadly. No rice is.

Next up, brussel sprouts!

If you have any tried and true Kale, turnip, etc. recipes, send 'em along. . . Please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I'm pretty dull when it comes to root veggies. I usually just toss potatoes, carrots, beets, and parsnips in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs are handy. Then I roast them in a moderate oven (350 or so) until they're soft or I'm bored, whichever comes first. Cooking times varies depending on how I cut the veggies, but it usually takes around 45 minutes or so. You can serve them either warm or at room temp. I especially like to do this when I'm roasting a chicken. Then everything just cooks together.

You can also do mashed potatoes and parsnips together. Just cook your parsnips and potatoes until mashable then add milk, butter, and salt. I mean, how can you go wrong with milk, butter, and salt? Some folks like mashed parsnips by themselves, but I find the flavor a little too strong.

As for turnips and kale, I have no recipes. I've roasted turnips in my root veggie mix before, but it turns out I don't like turnips too much so it wasn't a huge success.