I’m going to dig my parsnips today.
Some people might think that a bit strange — harvesting vegetables in the spring instead of the fall. But most gardeners know that parsnips are one of the few veggies that can be left in the ground over the winter — even with the harsh weather we sometimes have on the Great Plains and the northern Red River Valley.
Carrrots are another, but they’re a bit touchier. With carrots, you need to get them out of the ground nearly as soon as the frost goes out or you’ll end up with mush. Parsnips, on the other hand, stay firmer much longer.
My gardening buddy, Darrel Koehler, just dug the last of his two days ago and said they we as solid as a rock, with tap roots that went so deep some broke off. (Parsnips are readily available in most supermarkets.)
After digging my parsnips, I generally like to wash them, blanche them and then vacuum seal for use later in soups and stews. I’m thinking some of this year’s crop even would go nicely in a winter vegetable hash (recipe follows).
Of course, some of the parsnips almost immediately will be sauteed in a little butter and seasoned with salt and pepper for a nice side dish. And I’ve also come across another recipe for a parsnip spice cake that looks intriguing. It probably will be a lot like carrot cake.
It’s sure nice to have fresh veggies in the spring!
Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
½ cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips (about 3 large)
½ cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 cups (about 12 ounces) powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Combine flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in large bowl; whisk to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to combine. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Stir in parsnips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in fresh ginger and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Spread over cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
Yield: Serves 12 to 16.
Winter Vegetable Hash
1 small celery root, diced
1 large turnip, diced
1 pound parsnips, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium potato, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine vinegar
Peel vegetables. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Combine in a large bowl with garlic and onion and mix well.
Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add diced vegetables and saute for 15 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula. Stir in salt, thyme and rosemary. Add vinegar and toss with the vegetables, turning rapidly with a spatula until vinegar has evaporated.
Place pan of vegetables in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Roast for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and top begins to brown.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10.