Schatzi: Due to our service industry jobs, Eli and I have odd weekends. Sundays are our Fridays, and Tuesdays are our Sundays–which allows us not one, but two opportunities a week for Sunday Suppers! Jealous? Last Tuesday (sorry to be so laggardly about posting, but I’ve been writing papers for midterms), Eli and I, and our beloved Jon & Maiya, all went to Sauvie Island for some prime pumpkin patching. Sadly, our usual patch had a sub-par selection, and we’ve decided that we will check out different patches next year. But we did get pumpkins, which is the important thing. Well, one of the important things, as after a long day tramping about in the brisk fall air and thinking about pumpkins and crafts, we needed a good Sunday Supper.
We decided to do pork chops, and I also roasted some carrots with parsnips I picked up at the pumpkin patch. We used Shake n’ Bake for our pork chops, as we both have fond childhood memories of the stuff (like when my eldest sister Heather would babysit Maiya and me, and she’d let us do the shaking!). Eli’s been working on some different coatings for his porkchops, which we hope to soon have up here. For a vegetable, we had frozen organic peas. It was filling, and we made it together. That’s the other important part, because Eli proposed to me during our supper-making, and I accepted. So it seems there will be plenty of Gourmanderie in our future. Hooray for us!
Parsnips are the carrot’s eccentric cousin–white rather than orange (or purple as carrots once were), with a more intense, nutty flavor. Both parsnips and carrots were consumed by the Greeks and Romans, though descriptions of both are largely interchangeable as they were both described by the same word, pastinaca. The Romans considered parsnips an aphrodisiac (so maybe that’s why . . . ?).
Parsnips were somewhat supplanted by the introduction of the potato, though they were introduced to the New World by British colonists–and were likely at the first Thanksgivings. Wild parsnips are highly toxic, causing photodermatitis. Parsnips are at their best after the first frost, when starches convert to sugar; the Romans discovered that the farther north they traveled, the larger and tastier parsnips grew.
I don’t recall having them when I was a child, though I know they were featured in the Doctor Doolittle books I avidly devoured at my mother’s recommendation. When I traveled to Buffalo, New York to have Thanksgiving with Maiya and our East Coast cousins, our Cousin Johnny’s wife made a delicious beef stew one night featuring parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas, and I have been fond of those homely root vegetables ever since. The light seasoning in this recipe allows the flavors of the roasted parsnips and carrots to shine. Try it with the cumin; it’s extremely complimentary to both vegetables.
- 1-1/2 lbs parsnips
- 1-1/2 lbs carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch of sugar
- optionally, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Cut parsnips and carrots into sticks 1/4-1/2 inch thick, depending on the size of your carrots and parsnips. You want them to be fairly even.
- Toss parsnips and carrots with olive oil til coated; add salt, pepper, and sugar, and cumin seeds if using, and toss to evenly distribute.
- Roast vegetables at 450F for about 30 minutes, giving the occasional stir, until tender.