Wednesday, March 5, 2008

#32 Parsnip and Watercress Salad

As Greg and I gorged ourselves on Bury Market cheese, we needed something to cut through the richness. I'd seen the recipe for the salad as I was flicking through English Food, and thought that I should only make it when able to get really good produce. Apparently, it's an early Seventeenth Century dish, and it's very easy to prepare. The recipe said to use one medium sized parsnip per person, so I doubled that for starters! They were boiled until tender in salted water. While they were boiling, I arranged a head of little gem lettuce in each of our bowls and made a vinaigrette. Jane recommended putting on some toasted nuts and to use the relevant nut oil in the vinaigrette. I used walnut, as I've made parsnips salads before that used walnuts. I made it in the ratio of 1 part walnut oil,1 part vegetable oil (as the nut oil by itself can be overpowering) and 1 part white wine vinegar. Then I seasoned it well. This was used to dress the parsnips. The dressed parsnips were arranged in a ring on top of the lettuce. Finally, a pile of watercress was placed in the centre of the dish along with a sprinkle of chopped toasted walnuts.

I'd forgotten how nice the walnut and parsnip combo is, and how lovely and peppery watercress is, I think that people poo-poo it has boring salad. FYI: watercress is one of the three indigenous vegetable to Britain. The others are kale and....Damn! I've forgotten the other one. I shall try and find the reference again. It's weird to think that all other vegetables have been brought in from foreign climbs, including the parsnip!

#32 Parsnip and Watercress Salad - 8.5/10. This is a great salad. Certainly tasty enough to eat on it's own. I'd have it with some granary bread to mop up any stray vinaigrette at the end!


Anonymous said...

still in a parsnip groove here.

this, from Cooks' Magazine, is quite good, if a little too foxy. sauteeing the 'snips is an excellent method, however, and i think i will do that to make the salad.

Stir-Fried Carrots and Parsnips with Ginger, Maple, and Anise


Serves 4 as a side dish

2 tablespoons soy sauce , preferably light
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds or fennel seeds
2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon peanut oil or canola oil
3–4 small carrots (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/2- x 2-inch sticks
3–4 small parsnips (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/2- x 2-inch sticks
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger , minced (about 2 tablespoons)

1. Stir soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, and anise or fennel seeds in small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until extremely hot, at least 4 minutes. Carefully swirl 2 tablespoons oil in pan until bottom is evenly coated (oil will begin to shimmer and smoke almost immediately). Fry carrots, flipping with wide spatula every 30 seconds, until slightly charred and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add parsnips; continue cooking in same manner until carrots are charred and parsnips are tender, 5 to 6 minutes longer.

3. Make a well in center of pan; mash ginger and remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan with back of spatula. Fry until fragrant, about 5 seconds, and stir into vegetables. Add maple mixture and toss into vegetables to coat; cook until liquid is reduced by about half, about 15 seconds. Serve immediately.

Neil Buttery said...

Yes, a a fry in oil or butter would improve this dish, I reckon.

I'll give this a go - it's a much underused vegetable. We only use it for roasting for Sunday Dinner really. A travesty!

Andy said...

Asparagus is apparently indigenous. ;-)

Neil Buttery said...

Now Andy, this is where I get a bit pedantic. Wild asparagus does grown in the UK, as does wild parsnip and wild carrot, BUT the varieties that were selectively bred as food crops and introduced from other countries!