The Seasonal Cooking Challenge: Midwinter Roasting

01/28/2010 2:11 PM |

roasted parsnips

It is fitting that the first (well, second, technically) in my weekly blog series of seasonal, local, NYC greenmarket-approved recipes, occurs on the kind of snowy day that really makes you want to stay under the covers drinking coffee and reading Jane Austen. Yup, I’m talking about roasted root vegetables. While that doesn’t sound too glamorous, think of it this way: you’re whole apartment will take on a wonderful, rich, homey aroma, and you can even pull your chair up to the oven to get extra warm.

—So, at the Williamsburg/Greenpoint Greenmarket last weekend I purchased the following, to roast in a big pan: three kinds of potatoes (blue fingerling!), parsnips (trust me), red onions, and garlic. Simple.

—One of the nice things about roasting vegetables is that you don’t have to be too fussy about fine mincing; just hack in and chop away. Because they take a bit longer, it’s best to hew the parsnips into bite-sized morsels, whereas the potatoes can be left a bit bigger. Set the oven to 400.

—Dump the coarsely chopped vegetables into a shallow roasting tray (and add delicious local tofu from the 4th Street Food Co-op for extra protein) and drizzle liberally with olive oil, Bragg’s or soy sauce, and a little mirin. If you want to keep it local (but not vegan) you can use Ronnybrook’s amazing salted butter, but you have to be a little more vigilant with making sure food doesn’t fuse to the pan. Add pepper, thyme or rosemary, and away you go.

—Obviously, I’m not being too fussy with exact measurements here, as it’s really a pretty rough and ready dish. The key is to let the flavors of the food come out of their own accord—parsnips have an almost tangy sweetness to them that is way tastier than your grandma ever let on. Cook for about 20 minutes and then give everything a good toss (ten mins if you you’re using butter), checking to make sure things aren’t sticking; let cook for at least another ten after that. The potatoes will be done before the parsnips, but that’s ok, cuz they’re amazing when they get crispy…

—Try a parsnip—if it’s to your liking, give the whole thing one more toss and serve with rice or couscous, with a side of harissa. Salt and pepper to taste.

BONUS TIP: Cook up a whole whack of stuff at once… it makes for a great quick snack or lunch at work.