How do I trim/cook a parsnip (seriously)
No need to core them. I just treat them like a carrot. Peel them, as you could a carrot, and then cut them into cubes and roast them, with EVOO and salt and pepper or use them in various recipes. The inside will soften. They are wonderful. Below are two recipes using them that are wonderful. The gratin is truly divine.
PARSNIP AND CELERY ROOT GRATIN
Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Note: From chef Ari Rosenson of Cut in Beverly Hills. This recipe calls for a 9-inch gratin dish or deep dish pie plate.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
2 large celery root (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
2 to 3 parsnips (about 1 pound total)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche, divided
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1. Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat them until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat to steep while you prepare the vegetables.
2. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel and very thinly slice the celery roots and parsnips (about one-eighth inch thick), either using a mandoline or by hand. In a 9-inch gratin dish or deep dish pie plate, spread one-third cup crème fraîche. Add a layer of parsnips, then a layer of celery root, then spoon over about 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture. Repeat the process until the last layer reaches the top of the dish.
3. Cut a piece of parchment the same size as the top of the gratin dish or pie plate, lay it over the top layer, then cover the dish with aluminum foil, sealing around the edges. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Top the gratin with the remaining 2 tablespoons crème fraîche spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle on the cheeses and bread crumbs. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the gratin is nicely browned. Serve hot.
MINESTRA OF ROOT VEGETABLES
Total time: About 2 hours
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 parsnips, coarsely chopped
1 rutabaga, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 big sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Savoy cabbage
2/3 cup French green lentils
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or more, to taste
1. Trim the tough green tops of the leeks, leaving only the white stalk behind. Cut each stalk in quarters lengthwise, cutting down to but not through the root end. Rinse well under cold running water, separating the layers of the leeks to get rid of any dirt that might be hiding there. Thinly slice both leeks crosswise.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy 4- to 6- quart soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks, carrots, parsnips and rutabaga, cover tightly and cook gently until the vegetables are bright in color, beginning to soften and become aromatic, about 5 minutes. The vegetables do not need to be added all at once; you can chop them one at a time (they should be chopped to about the same size) and add them to the pot as you go along. Add the garlic and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.
3. Place the thyme sprigs in the center of the bay leaf and fold the bay leaf around them. Tie with string to hold together in a packet. Or you can fold the bay and thyme in a square of cheesecloth and tie it closed. Add the herb packet to the soup and cook for a minute or two.
4. Add 8 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot, leaving the lid ajar, and reduce the heat to maintain a sprightly simmer. The liquid should be bubbling quickly, but not boiling
5. Cook until the vegetables have softened and their flavors have married, about 1 hour. You should not taste any individual vegetable, but a more complex combination of all of them.
6. Cut the cabbage in lengthwise quarters and cut out the solid core. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise and then slice it about one-fourth to one-half inch thick. When the soup vegetables are cooked, add the cabbage to the pot and gently stir it in. Continue to simmer until the cabbage is silky and sweet, about 30 minutes.
7. While the soup is cooking, in a separate medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a rolling boil. Add the lentils, reduce the heat to a simmer and, with the cover slightly ajar, cook until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
8. When you are almost ready to serve, remove the bay leaf bundle from the soup. Raise the heat under the soup to a faster simmer and add the lentils. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the root vegetables. Stir in the vinegar and let the soup cook another minute or two to lose the raw smell. Season with a generous grinding of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or vinegar as needed, then ladle the soup into warm bowls. Serve immediately.
Me too, I don't core them, but I *do* try to buy the more carrot-sized ones than the big monster parsnips that are an 2 inches in diameter and have a more pronounced core. And if I'm really lucky at the store I can try to choose ones that are mostly uniform in thickness top to bottom, which helps with even cooking.