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Ingredient of the week: Parsnips

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04 NOVEMBER 2008

What was once England's staple root vegetable has now been rather eclipsed by the potato. But it still has myriad uses in the kitchen and is a firm family favourite. There is something wonderful about its long, tapering shape that lends itself to roasting so well. Maybe it's because one end goes very crispy, a whisper away from burning, while the interior at the fat end stays dense and moist. Maybe it's the chewy skin, or that explosive combination of meaty gravy and sweet, golden flesh. They are heavenly when gently browned in foaming butter, covered with stock and simmered slowly for half an hour then blitzed with double cream. The rich, velvety soup you are left with is nothing short of mind-blowing. And it's immeasurably pleasing when something this good is made with so few things. They also lend themselves very well to the spices of Indian cooking - chillies, coriander seeds and garam masala. Try tossing par-boiled parsnips with a mixture of these and frying until golden. Add a spoonful of cooling yoghurt and a glorious plate awaits.