The end of the growing season is upon us (for the most part), but we have had a good run. I can not tell you a time when I picked tomatoes or peppers from my home garden in mid-October.
But November is the last month where you will be able to get a lot of local produce within the season. Namely root vegetables, which grow below the soil surface. Think of potatoes, carrots and rutabaga.
One of my favorite root vegetables that you will find at this time of year is the parsnip. Not to be confused with invasive parsnips, which, although beautiful, are an invasive plant that can make your skin blister.
No, the vegetable parsnip is a little sweet, tender when cooked and will make your fall and winter cooking much better.
What I especially love about parsnips and other root vegetables is that when stored properly, they can last until spring. Just cut off the leafy tops (they can draw moisture), brush off any dirt and place in boxes with dry leaves, sawdust or slightly damp sand. Store them in a basement or cellar that is 55 to 60 degrees. Just keep a watchful eye on any moisture that will cause them to rot, or dryness that will cause them to split. You can also keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag, unwashed, for about 10 days.
Although you can eat them raw, parsnips are best cooked. And when cooked, it means they can be eaten mashed, sautéed, steamed, fried, baked or fried. Their mild, sweet taste with a bitter undertone and starchy texture make them perfect for soups and stews. And they go incredibly well with other root vegetables, like potatoes.
Google “parsnip recipes” and you will see a wealth of dishes with mashed potatoes containing parsnips.
Even better than their versatility is their nutritional profile. They are full of vitamins, minerals like potassium and manganese and fiber.
Counter Culture focuses on a single food or ingredient (or sometimes technique) to help readers expand their horizons in the kitchen. Alysha Witwicki is a freelance food and lifestyle writer living in Whitefish Bay. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Properties: A root vegetable related to carrots and parsley with a creamy, beige skin and interior.
Taste: Mild, slightly sweet with a touch of bitterness
User: Eat them raw or sautéed, fried or behind them; perfect for soups and stews
Where to get them: A farmers market, farmstead or any grocery store.
Root vegetables of all kinds make this dish from the Food Network sing – including parsnips. This would be the perfect place for a holiday meal, like Thanksgiving. And if you have one, now is the time to tear your food processor out. With so many vegetables to cut, your arms will thank you.
Root vegetables a dish
Recipe tested by Alysha Witwicki
Serves 10 servings
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small celery root (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into thin slices
- 2 medium parsnips (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut into thin slices
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into thin slices
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 8 ounces medium sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a lasagna pan or another 4-liter frying pan.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until simmering, about 1 minute, then pour in the cream and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
Turn all the root vegetables with sage and thyme in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put half of the vegetables in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half of both cheeses. Place the remaining vegetables on top. Remove the bay leaves from the hot cream and pour the cream over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and parmesan.
Place the dish on a baking sheet and cover with foil (seal it so it does not touch the cheese). Bake until the vegetables are just tender and the cream is bubbling, 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking until golden on top, about 45 minutes more. Let rest 20 minutes before serving.