I realise this is about as exciting as saying I’ve discovered spuds to most of you, but I don’t come from these parts you see. Thank goodness curiosity got the better of me, and I bought what I thought were another variety of carrots. Biting into these, I was amazed by the buttery, rich, gingery taste of these. Many possibilities quickly came to mind. I’ve made puree—no need for butter or cream, i find, their natural richness and zing carry through perfectly. Also a simple stew with white beans and rosemary, flavours so complementary I could eat this dish over and over again, if not for the fact that I’ve been forbidden to buy parsnips again! And then this parsnip-rosemary cake that I adapted from an old favourite carrot cake recipe.
400g grated parsnip
50g ground almond
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp a mix other ground spices (nutmeg, cloves, ginger, etc.)
¾ tsp salt
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped up
150g olive oil
Preheat oven to 180º celsius/350 F. Prepare a 9″ round cake tin/ large loaf tin.
In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, ground almond, baking powder and soda, spices, salt, rosemary). In another even larger bowl, beat oil and sugar until well-mixed. Add eggs one by one, beating after each addition. Add parsnips. Gently fold in flour and mix just till everything is evenly distributed; do not over-mix. Pour batter into tins and bake for about 40-50 mins.
While I’m wont to reduce the sugar when making carrot cake, this one needed the sugar called for. I guess because parsnips are naturally less sweet than carrots. I would also up the spices. But all in all, it was a most delicious cake, unusual perhaps and not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly mine. I also found out something strange—people don’t know parsnips!?!? (You see, it isn’t just me, and at least I have an excuse.) I got puzzled looks when I mentioned this root. Apparently it only came back into the ‘public domain’ not so long ago with farmers’ baskets. Poor parsnip!